Olive Growers in Extremadura Ask for Expansion of Wage Subsidies

The combination of rising production costs and expectations of the worst olive harvest in recorded history has led growers to ask Madrid for financial aid.
Olive trees in the fields of Extremadura near Trujillo and Plasencia, Spain
Nov. 9, 2022
Paolo DeAndreis

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La Unión Extremadura, an agri­cul­tural union, has called on the cen­tral gov­ern­ment to expand pre­vi­ously announced wage sub­si­dies from sea­sonal work­ers to olive grow­ers.

In October, the gov­ern­ment low­ered the min­i­mum num­ber of work days required for agri­cul­tural labor­ers to access unem­ploy­ment sup­port from 20 to 10 days in Andalusia and Extremadura.

The cen­tral gov­ern­ment cited Spain’s pre­cip­i­tous pro­duc­tion decrease, which has led many olive farm­ers to reduce the num­ber of work­days dra­mat­i­cally.

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The decrease has been espe­cially felt in Extremadura, Spain’s third-largest olive oil-pro­duc­ing region, home to 11 per­cent of the country’s olive groves. APAG Extremadura Asaja esti­mated the region would have its worst olive har­vest in his­tory.

If the gov­ern­ment of Spain under­stands that there has been a dras­tic decrease in pro­duc­tion, espe­cially in olive groves, due to cli­ma­to­log­i­cal phe­nom­ena (drought and heat) and that for this rea­son, the work­ers must be helped, why not help the farm­ers who have suf­fered these cli­ma­to­log­i­cal adver­si­ties,” the union said.

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The union pre­dicted that olive oil pro­duc­tion in the region would decrease by 60 per­cent, while table olive pro­duc­tion is expected to fall by 70 per­cent.

Compounding the expec­ta­tions of a poor har­vest are ris­ing pro­duc­tion costs, includ­ing fuel, elec­tric­ity and fer­til­izer.

Neither the Ministry of Agriculture nor the Junta de Extremadura has plans to help these pro­duc­ers,” the union wrote. In addi­tion to suf­fer­ing these losses, their sit­u­a­tion is aggra­vated by the impres­sive increase in pro­duc­tion costs.”

In an indi­rect response to the union, Begoña García, the regional agri­cul­ture min­is­ter, told a con­fer­ence that the gov­ern­ment is com­mit­ted to the olive sec­tor.

“[The Junta de Extremadura] is 100 per­cent com­mit­ted to the growth, improve­ment and inno­va­tion of the sec­tor,” he said, point­ing out that 250,000 had been ear­marked for the devel­op­ment of the sec­tor over the next half-decade.

Extremadura, together with the west of Andalusia and Portugal, is the engine of the increase in the area of​olive groves in Spain,” he con­cluded.



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