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STAFF REPORTER

PALMA
THE Majorcan Farmers' Union (UPM) reproached the Balearic government yesterday for the “lack of financial support” that it has given to farmers during the economic crisis.

UPM General Secretary Biel Torrens said both the agricultural and livestock sectors have been left “in an extremely difficult situation” threatening the livelihood of many farmers.

Looking back over the relationship between the present Balearic government and the farmers, Torrens said that there has been a noticeable lack of strength in agricultural policy . This, he said, has left those in the industry without a sense of direction and with the belief that they are not being adequately supported at a time of crisis.

Torrens said that apart from wine, olive, and green vegetable growers, farmers are facing the impossibility of recovering the costs of production through the sale of their products.

Their difficulties are being compounded by the fact that government subsidies are reportedly totally inadequate to keep farming businesses viable.
Torrens refused to make a comparison between President Francesc Antich's Socialist government and that of his predecessor, Jaume Matas, head of the centre-right Partido Popular. He saw fit to comment however, that neither had given the farmers their proper due, and both had failed to recognised the inherent structural problems of the industry.

The General Secretary said that although the Socialist government had made some “positive” contributions to the farming sector such as financial aid in 2007 and 2008 and cooperative development programmes, the real problem lay in the fact that the industry is being “slowly strangled” economically. “Any help that the government has given in recent years is only cosmetic,” alleged Torrens, adding that the economic crisis has just been the tip of an iceberg. The underlying threat, he furthered, is the fact that the government just doesn't have a solid agricultural policy, pointing to the fact that the present government has done away altogether with a separate Agricultural ministry.