Farmers’ protests spread across Spain

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farmers protests

The Spanish countryside is increasingly making its voice heard. Day after day, discontent grows, with demonstrations now spreading across the entire country. These threaten to severely disrupt road traffic, inevitably affecting the transport of goods over land.

The first gatherings took place yesterday in Castilla y León and are expanding today to numerous provinces. Part of the sector is joining the wave of protests that is sweeping through the heart of Europe, with France as the epicenter.

Common motives

The reasons behind the protests are the same everywhere, including in Spain. The main issue is the new system of the European Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which introduces new regulatory and environmental requirements. “The excess of bureaucracy was the last straw,” says Carles Vicente, head of the organization at Unió de Pagesos. According to Vicente, the current CAP complicates access to subsidies through new requirements that increase costs for the primary sector, leading to calls for simplification. Other demands include measures against the effects of drought and a revision of the food chain law that truly prohibits selling at a loss. Finally, they want an end to unfair competition from outside the EU with lower environmental standards.

Tractor protests and blockades

The Plataforma en Defensa de la Agricultura has initiated a movement of “tractor protests” in various provinces since Tuesday. Close to the far right and organized via mobile messaging groups, their leader Lola Guzmán calls for blocking roads “with a tractor wherever possible.” Traffic will also be disrupted by driving on all lanes “at the applicable minimum speed.” Agricultural professionals are asked not to bring any party flags, only the flags of Spain and a black one as a “sign of mourning” are allowed.

Planned actions by agricultural organizations

The representative agricultural organizations Asaja, COAG, and UPA have also planned their own protests starting Thursday. These begin in Ávila, Salamanca, Ciudad Real, and Huesca, with more provinces to follow. “Our goal is to extend the protest calendar to all autonomous communities. Then we’ll see if we organize a large national demonstration in Madrid,” says Miguel Padilla, Secretary-General of COAG.

Protests targeting ports

A new development is the announcement of protests at the ports of Castellón on February 15 and Valencia on February 22, due to the “lack of control at the border on imports from third countries.” In Catalonia, the protests are led by territorial assemblies of Plataforma 6-F, with support from Unió de Pagesos and other agricultural federations. The meetings are planned in Lleida, Girona, Terres de l’Ebre, and Granollers.

Transport sector shows solidarity

Parallel to the farmer protests, a truck driver organization has announced a “national strike for an indefinite period.” It involves the same group that managed to block logistics in 2022. The strike begins this coming Saturday. The transport sector shows full support for the agricultural protests. Meanwhile, other transport groups call for caution and to avoid attacks that could endanger the safety of professional drivers.

At the beginning of 2020, the agricultural sector gathered en masse under the slogan “farmers to the limit.” The protests were ended by the pandemic, but now the sector seems determined to make their voice heard again at a national level.

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