The new Minister for the Environment Jaume Matas will arrive in Palma for talks with his successor Francesc Antich on Monday with the Balearic government wanting crisis talks over the drought. Yesterday in Palma local ministers agreed that Madrid has little option but to declare the Balearics a disaster zone. To date, the agricultural sector has suffered loses to the sum of just under 3'700 million pesetas and the local government wants to bring forward its aid package and start helping farmers as soon as possible. Balearic Presidential secretary, Antoni Garcias, said yesterday that Palma wants Madrid to come up with around 2'700 million pesetas of direct financial aid to start easing the bleak situation the agricultural community is facing. The government also wants Madrid to help cover the costs of importing food stuffs for livestock to the islands and to agree to a three-year rescue package in order to get farmers through one of the worst droughts in the region's history and offer security once the situation improves. Madrid will also be asked to approve a proposal to reduce the level of tax on farmers. Balearic Chief Minister Francesc Antich is confident his government will succeed in winning Madrid's support. His meeting with Matas on Monday will prove crucial, but Antich will use the talks to remind Matas that when he was Chief Minister, a 9'000 million peseta investment package was approved, with the bulk of that money for the agricultural sector coming from the Ministry for Environment in order to improve irrigation and water.
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