Thousands of Spanish farmers have occupied the roads, in a mobilization that started in several European countries and has ended up having its replica in our country. Just a week ago we saw how tractors blocked Paris and today they will parade through the streets of Zaragoza.
The causes of irritation in this sector accumulate. The increase in costs and, at the same time, the pressure not to pass them on to the final consumer in the face of inflationary pressure, has increased the tension between primary producers, who see how they often have to work at losses or with laughable margins, and the chain. of distribution. Some grievances are regional: the consequences of the drought in the Mediterranean regions and the competition for water with other economic sectors, the withdrawal of aid due to legal impediments in Germany, the Ukrainian competition in Eastern European countries or that of agriculture in the North Africa in Spain… But others are openly global. As already happened with the yellow vest crisis due to the price policy of fossil fuels, measures to combat climate change entail costs, costly transformations and imbalances that are difficult to argue when they affect the weakest links in the system, that see their viability, continuity and generational change threatened. Such as the transfer of arable areas to photovoltaic parks (and here the environmental reasons that would lead to pure profitability not being the only element do not necessarily always favor agricultural use) or the requirement of compliance with standards from which producers are instead exempt. extra-Europeans that benefit from free trade agreements.
Beyond the structural reasons, there are other more visceral ones that contribute no less to sparking discontent. And not all of them are the political instrumentalization that, is evident in the case of the European and Spanish extreme right, is trying to turn the countryside into the armed wing of climate denialism and has managed to sneak in the UN’s 2030 Agenda (which aims to achieve a world without which agriculture as we know it would collapse) on the protesters’ banners. Nor should the appearance of transport platforms with a suspicious political agenda serve to make the Government hide behind this argument to avoid its responsibilities. Indeed, there is political instrumentalization of the controversy (but we should include the publication of the list of beneficiaries of public aid for the drought right in the middle of the mobilization). Nor is it correct (as the general secretary of CCOO has done, for example) to relativize the protest due to the fact that it does not come from employed workers but from “businessmen.” Many of the protesters are, yes, small landowners, overwhelmed by bureaucratic and regulatory demands and with the continuity of their way of life in crisis.
The reasons for the discomfort are multiple. But it is worrying that the only way farmers are getting a response to their demands in the first instance is the flexibility of environmental policies, as has happened with the EU’s renunciation of reducing the use of phytosanitary products. . These are, unfortunately, the ones for most immediate electoral use. There should be others that are much more in-depth.