Luis Planas has announced a number of measures aimed at helping producers cope with low prices and increasing production costs. He also met with olive oil producers to discuss self-regulation.
Spain’s Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has announced a series of measures to address the crescendoing concerns of farmers and producers who have been protesting across the country since late January.
The announcement comes a day after hundreds of protestors gathered in front of the ministry in Madrid to demand support for farmers and producers suffering from persistently low prices and rising production costs.
Our agricultural sector, our farmers and ranchers are asking for respect and understanding. And this government shares this feeling of respect, understanding and support because without farmers and ranchers, we would not have the Spain that we want.
Luis Planas announced that the ministry would meet with representatives from across the agricultural sector, including the leaders of the protests, to discuss possible reforms to the food chain law and changes to the laws governing interprofessional organizations.
These reforms would increase the bargaining power of agricultural cooperatives with exporters and distributors. They would also demand that production costs are factored into agricultural contracts between farmers and distributors, and impose harsher punishments on companies that breach their contracts with farmers.See more: Olive Oil Prices News
Additionally, the ministry will convene an emergency meeting of the food chain price observatory, which will study price movements on products, such as olive oil, fruits and vegetables, and make policy recommendations based on those findings.
Planas also announced a plan to increase the amount of money in the ministry’s budget to support the agricultural insurance system, a key tool to reimburse farmers in case of production loss due to climatic adversities.
The fund had been frozen at €211 million ($232 million) per annum in recent years, but the ministry has since increased the amount of funding available by €60 million ($66 million).
On Thursday, the minister met with representatives from the table olive and olive oil sectors to discuss self-regulation measures, which would allow Spain’s Interprofessional Olive Oil Organization to control how much olive oil is available on the market; the improvement of quality standards and traceability; and ways in which to increase exports of both olive oil and table olives to non-European countries.
The meetings took place with the backdrop of modest price increases for virgin, extra virgin and lampante olive oils at the beginning of the month, which have been attributed to the European Union’s private storage tendering scheme.
Since the third tendering period – in which producers are paid to remove their olive oil from the market for a minimum of 180 days – closed at the beginning of the month, 171,000 tons have been removed from the market.
At the meeting, Planas told members of the olive oil sector that the Spanish government is in the process of finalizing an agreement with Brussels to allow for self-regulation in the olive oil industry for the upcoming 2020 harvest.
Planas hopes that with self-regulation, producers will experience less price volatility and the prevailing market imbalances that have tanked prices since the beginning of 2019 can begin to self-correct.
The impacts of the United States tariffs on olive oil and green olive imports was also discussed at the meeting. Planas said that the government would continue to lobby the European Commission for aid for producers.
With regard to the U.S. tariffs on black olives that were implemented in August 2018, Planas said the government would continue to appeal them with the relevant authorities (the European Commission and World Trade Organization) and seek further measures of support for table olive producers.
Specifically, Planas hopes to increase the amount of funding that table olive producers receive from the E.U. to promote their products in new international markets. The E.U. has already provided €5 million ($5.49 million) for such schemes since the beginning of 2019.