Tens of Thousands Protest Olive Oil Prices in Madrid

Protestors called on the Spanish government and European Union to change how the industry is regulated, help producers cope with low prices and protect Spanish olive oil from U.S. tariffs.

Oct. 10, 2019
By Daniel Dawson

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PRECIOS JUSTOS PARA UN OLIVAR VIVO,” read one ban­ner, which stretched across the entirety of a wide Madrid boule­vard and took 16 men to carry.

Fair prices for a liv­ing olive grove.”

Tens of thou­sands of olive grow­ers and oil pro­duc­ers (esti­mates range from 15,000 to more than 30,000) marched in the streets of the Spanish cap­i­tal on Thursday, demand­ing some­thing be done about the unsus­tain­ably low prices they have been receiv­ing for their olive oils since March.

What we hope is that, after the suc­cess of the demon­stra­tion, the tasks for which we have come will be achieved.- Luis Carlos Valero, the direc­tor of ASAJA Jaén

The pro­tes­tors demanded that both the Spanish gov­ern­ment and the European Union take con­crete actions to help improve their eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion. They also voiced their dis­plea­sure at being caught up in a sim­mer­ing trade dis­pute between the E.U. and the United States.

As of October 18, some Spanish olive oil exports to the U.S. will face a 25-per­cent tar­iff. Roughly 50,000 tons of olive oil exports are expected to be impacted.

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See Also: Spain Reacts to U.S. Tariffs on Olive Oil

Organizers of the protest, which include the Association of Young Farmers (ASAJA), the Coordinator of Agriculture and Livestock Organizations (COAG) and the Union of Small Farmers (UPA), have demanded that the gov­ern­ment increase its invest­ments in tra­di­tional olive groves, change the rules regard­ing self-reg­u­la­tion within the frame­work of the future E.U. Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and nego­ti­ate with the U.S. to get olive oil off of its list of retal­ia­tory tar­iffs.

Luis Carlos Valero, the direc­tor of ASAJA Jaén, said that it was espe­cially impor­tant for pro­duc­ers to be able to pri­vately store oil from one year to the next with­out hav­ing to worry about being accused of spec­u­la­tion in the European Court of Competition.

The first is that the exten­sion of the stan­dard is rec­og­nized through the Interprofessional of Olive Oil [an orga­ni­za­tion that rep­re­sents pro­duc­ers, dis­trib­u­tors and exporters] by the European Union and we can save the oil from one year to the next with­out being taken to the Court of Competition under the assump­tion that we are spec­u­lat­ing,” he said.

This step, Valero argued, would help keep prices con­sis­tent from on-year to off-year and pro­vide pro­duc­ers with the finan­cial sta­bil­ity they need to main­tain their groves and pro­vide for their fam­i­lies.

In a series of state­ments on Twitter, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPA) said that it had heard the pro­test­ers’ demands and would con­tinue the work it was already doing to meet the ones it could.

“[Minister of Agriculture] Luis Planas con­veys to the olive oil sec­tor once again that he shares the con­cern about the anom­alous evo­lu­tion of prices in this cam­paign and empha­sizes that for this rea­son, he has been work­ing with the agri-food coop­er­a­tives of Spain,” MAPA said in response to the pro­test­ers.

Regarding the claims of the olive oil sec­tor, Luis Planas notes the work that has already been done together with the sec­tor in recent months with under­stand­ing, sol­i­dar­ity and sup­port,” the min­istry added.

At the end of it all, Valero said that he was happy with how the protests went. He believes the gov­ern­ment knows exactly what olive farm­ers and pro­duc­ers want from them.

The protest has been a great suc­cess for the large influx of farm­ers and olive grow­ers from all over Spain,” he said. What we hope is that, after the suc­cess of the demon­stra­tion, the tasks for which we have come will be achieved.”





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