Spanish farmers plan February protests as anger spreads

January 31, 2024 8:34 am

[Source: Reuters]

Spanish farmers’ associations said they were planning to take to the streets in February.

In protest against strict European regulations and lack of government support as unrest continues to spread across Europe.

Protests in France have intensified this week, with farmers using their tractors to block major motorways into Paris as they seek to highlight a range of grievances, including cheap imports and excessive European Union environmental regulation.

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In Belgium, farmers plan to block access roads to the Zeebrugge container port in Belgium from Tuesday. In recent weeks, farmers across Europe including in Germany, Poland and Romania have also held demonstrations.

“Mobilisations will take place as soon as possible,” Pedro Barato, president of Asaja, a Spanish association representing around 200,000 farmers and cattle breeders, said in a radio interview. “The actions will not be very different from what is happening in other EU countries.”

The protests are set to take place in the coming weeks, the organisations said in a joint statement. Asaja members are due to meet on Feb. 1 to make preparations.

Drought in southern Spain has hit farmers, with production of several crops such as rice and olives dropping over the past two years.

The largest farmers’ groups in Spain – Asaja, COAG and UPA – also share the same as grievances as their peers in other European countries, claiming environmental regulations imposed by Brussels are undermining the profitability of crops and increasing food prices.

Spanish farmers said they were also struggling to compete with products imported from outside the EU at lower prices.

As the French protests have intensified, some 20,000 Spanish trucks that cross the border every day have struggled to transport fruit, vegetables and other goods. Spanish transport association, Fenadismer, estimates the blockades cause daily losses of 10 million euros ($10.84 million) for Spanish companies.

Among other demands, the Spanish organisations plan to ask Brussels to halt negotiations with the Mercosur trade bloc, as well as trade agreements with Chile, Kenya, Mexico, India and Australia.

“It is time for them (European and national authorities) to take note, rectify and reform their strategies,” Asaja said.