` Spanish Farmers Threaten to Scrap Harvest Unless Government Acts

Europe

Spanish Farmers Threaten to Scrap Harvest Unless Government Acts

Oct. 21, 2010
By Daniel Williams

Recent News

By Daniel Williams
Olive Oil Times Con­trib­u­tor | Report­ing from Barcelona

The 2010/2011 crop year will begin with the low­est prices in recent years and many Span­ish farm­ers, in the face of high har­vest­ing costs, are con­sid­er­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of block­ing the har­vest due to the unprof­itabil­ity of the process.

Dur­ing an oppor­tunis­tic era when busi­ness ana­lysts feel that olive farm­ers should be mak­ing stronger efforts to invest, olive grow­ers find them­selves faced with a mar­ket prof­itabil­ity that does not cover their own costs of pro­duc­tion. As the cur­rent fig­ures stand, many Span­ish farm­ers have cal­cu­lated that col­lect­ing the har­vest would cost them more than what they would poten­tially gain at a later
time after with­hold­ing their prod­ucts from the mar­ket.

Rafael Civan­tos

Experts already see the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion as highly prob­lem­atic. Tak­ing into account the min­i­mum price per kilo that can be con­sid­ered as prof­itable (2.49 euros/kilo) against the prices and pro­duc­tion of the 2009/2010 sea­son – 567,691 tons with aver­age sell­ing price of 1.81 euros per kilo- ana­lysts cal­cu­late that olive grow­ers from Jaén have already lost some 386 mil­lion euros.[1]

Against this pes­simistic back­drop, thou­sands of olive grow­ers are ques­tion­ing whether it is worth ini­ti­at­ing next year’s olive crop due to the inevitable costs of wages, fuel and machin­ery. Given the pre­car­i­ous sit­u­a­tion of the olive sec­tor and the sit­u­a­tion ahead, COAG-Jaén, one of Spain’s largest agrar­ian unions, warns that it will take action if no price changes are ini­ti­ated by an inter­ven­tion from the cen­tral government’s Min­istry of Envi­ron­ment, Rural and Marine Affairs.

Advertisement

COAG-Jaén has also raised the issue of ensur­ing a stricter imple­men­ta­tion of puni­tive mea­sures against some of Spain’s biggest bot­tling com­pa­nies that have been accused of fraud­u­lent label­ing and a host of other alleged abuses.

Eco­nomic ana­lysts see the pric­ing cri­sis as hav­ing an adverse affect on job cre­ation at a time where Spain’s unem­ploy­ment rate has reached over 20% of the gen­eral population.[2] The num­ber of peo­ple work­ing in the olive oil sec­tor has already dropped in response to falling prices. Accord­ing to a 2010 report from the Foun­da­tion of Rural
Stud­ies, a project asso­ci­ated with the Union of Small Farm­ers and Ranch­ers, olive oil sec­tor employ­ees dimin­ished 4% last year to some 786,050 employ­ees in 2009.[3] Even more are expected to be out of work if the sit­u­a­tion con­tin­ues.

The sec­re­tary gen­eral of COAG-Jaén, Rafael Civan­tos explains: The seven mil­lion in wages accounted for in the last cam­paign will defin­i­tively dimin­ish this year because many farm­ers are plan­ning to leave part of their har­vest and not col­lect it, espe­cially
those that are sit­u­ated in moun­tain­ous areas and other inac­ces­si­ble loca­tions.“1

In response, COAG-Jaén has issued a pub­lic warn­ing ask­ing the cen­tral gov­ern­ment to raise olive prices by ini­ti­at­ing another ware­hous­ing cam­paign or through other inter­ven­tion­ist mea­sures. We are fight­ing for every­one and we are not rul­ing out the block­ing of the start of the new cam­paign until mea­sures are taken to solve the crit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion in the olive oil sec­tor in Jaén,“said sec­re­tary gen­eral Rafael Civan­tos.1

In response to these warn­ings, the min­is­ter of the of Envi­ron­ment, Rural and Marine Affairs, Elena Espinosa, has stated that the Span­ish gov­ern­ment will not solicit a pri­vate ware­hous­ing cam­paign from the Euro­pean Union until cer­tain, spec­i­fied con­di­tions are met. She did insist, how­ever, that the Span­ish gov­ern­ment will always ini­ti­ate this effort, when the sit­u­a­tion meets the nec­es­sary con­di­tions and rules of the game.”[4]

1 España: blo­quearán el ini­cio de cam­paña si no se toman medi­das anti cri­sis”
2 Insti­tuto Nacional de Estadís­tica
3 Agri­cul­tura Famil­iar en España 2010: Informe Socioe­conómico” (PDF)
4 España: Medio Rural reit­era que no solic­i­tará el alma­ce­namiento de aceite”

Related News