Olive Oil Producers and Farmers Across Spain Demand 'Measures of Support'

Farmers across Spain, organized by the main cooperatives and associations, are protesting for better prices and government measures to help ease the burden of increasing production costs.

Jan. 31, 2020
By Daniel Dawson

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Hundreds from Spain’s agri­cul­ture sec­tor are expected to protest across the coun­try over the com­ing days.

The pro­tes­tors are demand­ing fair prices for their prod­ucts, includ­ing table olives and olive oil. Since falling to record-lows last year, olive oil prices have remained at unsus­tain­able” lev­els, accord­ing to many in the sec­tor.

We can’t wait another day. We have to change things. All those involved should lis­ten loudly and clearly to the voice of the farm­ers and that is why we will go out to the streets through­out the coun­try.- Joint state­ment from UPA, COAG and Asaja

Farmers are tired of receiv­ing mis­er­able prices while con­sumers pay high prices,” Ignacio Huertas, the sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the Union of Small Farmers and Ranchers (UPA-UCE) in Extremadura, said.

UPA, along with the asso­ci­a­tion of young farm­ers and ranch­ers (Asaja) and the Coordinator of Agriculture and Livestock Organizations (COAG) are respon­si­ble for orga­niz­ing the 21 protests that have and will take place.

See Also: Olive Oil Price News

Every day, we [farm­ers] have more dif­fi­culty doing our job and it is a more seri­ous prob­lem than many believe,” Juan Moreno, the direc­tor of COAG Extremadura, said.

In addi­tion to low prices, many pro­tes­tors demand mea­sures of sup­port” to help them cope with ris­ing costs of pro­duc­tion – such as the recent increase of the national min­i­mum wage, which rose by five per­cent at the begin­ning of January – and inter­na­tional trade uncer­tain­ties being caused by both Brexit and the impo­si­tion of tar­iffs by the United States on numer­ous Spanish agri­cul­tural prod­ucts in October.

According to Spain’s National Institute of Statistics, the coun­try’s agro-econ­omy also shrank by 2.6 per­cent in the past year, with the last four months of 2019 also prov­ing to be the worst months for farm­ers and pro­duc­ers. The decrease comes on the back of growth lev­els of nearly six per­cent in 2018.

One of the first of these sched­uled protests was held in the west­ern Spanish province of Badajoz on January 29 and descended into vio­lence.

More than 7,000 farm­ers and ranch­ers attended the protest, some of whom clashed with police after break­ing through a police cor­don sep­a­rat­ing them from the first annual Agroexpo. Spain’s min­is­ter of agri­cul­ture, fish­eries and food, Luis Planas, was among the speak­ers at the event.

Protestors hurled var­i­ous objects, includ­ing bot­tles of olive oil, at police before being pushed back. According to the gov­ern­ment, 15 were injured in the protests.

The orga­niz­ers of the protests con­demned the vio­lence and blamed var­i­ous unrep­re­sen­ta­tive” fac­tions for incit­ing the vio­lence.

In response to the inci­dent, Planas also con­demned the vio­lence that took place at Agroexpo but extended an olive branch to pro­tes­tors.

In an inter­view with local broad­caster, Cadena Ser, he said that cor­rec­tive and com­ple­men­tary mea­sures” could be taken to address their con­cerns regard­ing the increase in the min­i­mum wage.

Previous protests were held the day before in the autonomous com­mu­ni­ties of Galicia, Aragón and the Basque Country. Protestors also gath­ered in La Rioja, Andalusia and Castilla y León on January 29.

On January 30, pro­tes­tors also gath­ered in Jaén, block­ing roads and high­ways, to specif­i­cally demand fair prices for olive oil pro­duc­ers, which would in turn help main­tain the region’s (and country’s) strug­gling tra­di­tional olive groves.

At the cur­rent prices of olive oil in ori­gin (bulk depar­tures from the oil mills), the farmer is mak­ing a loss, espe­cially the olive grow­ers reg­is­tered in the Denominations of Protected Origin, espe­cially pro­duc­ers in Olivar de la Sierra, and those with the high­est cost for the pro­duc­tion of higher qual­ity oils,” mem­bers of the Protected Denominations of Origin Sierra de Segura, Sierra Mágina and Sierra de Cazorla, said.

Knowing that directly or indi­rectly the entire province lives from the olive grove, from the PDOs of the province all Jiennenses are encour­aged to join the protests,” the mem­bers added.

Meanwhile, four other protests, which were attended by at least 7,000 farm­ers and pro­duc­ers, took place across Castilla y León on the same day.

Further protests are sched­uled for the first half of February and will also take place across Spain, includ­ing in Cantabría, Castilla-La Mancha, Madrid and Granada.

We can’t wait another day,” UPA, COAG and Asaja said in a joint state­ment at the begin­ning of the protests. We have to change things. All those involved should lis­ten loudly and clearly to the voice of the farm­ers and that is why we will go out to the streets through­out the coun­try.”


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