THE Farmers Union of Majorca (UP) yesterday called upon the new Balearic government headed by Jaume Matas to set up special grants and negotiate State-funded subsidies for local farmers who have been adversely affected by the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (PAC). The union, who consider the reform to be totally misrepresentational, term it “the Great Lie”.
The general secretary of UP, Pere Calafat, speaking on behalf of the union members, gave vent to the “disappointment” that his organisation felt with the negotiations that had been carried out on their behalf by the central agriculture minister Miguel Arias Cañete. Calafat believes he should have voted against the reform as did his Portuguese counterpart. Calafat said that his union was particularly worried about the “renationalisation” of funding - especially in the case of nuts - and about policies (the so-called partial disconnection). He warned that the agreement reached in Brussels “is the first step towards the disappearance of the CAP.” The farmers union believes that the reform has cemented an “injustice” because it facilitates 5 per cent of those who are qualified to apply for financial support being able to receive half of the benefits. Joan Mas, the union's co-ordinator, pointed out that the agricultural and farming activities most adversely affected in Majorca are nuts and cereals as well as sheep breeders. It is believed that the new scheme will make it difficult for young people just starting off in farming or agriculture. The breaking up of the former production funding system allows the European Union Member States to partially support production (25 per cent in the case of cereals and 50 per cent in sheep and goat breeding). For UP, this measure favours the large land owners and removes production incentives. This in turn damages agricultural professionals and encourages giving up business in the country. With regard to nuts, especially important on Majorca because of traditional almond growing, producers will be eligible from next year for funding in the sum of 241 euros per hectar, always assuming that half of these funds are contributed by the State and the Community. Calafat made a particular point of the fact that funding approved for this sub-sector had not been allocated an increase since 1990. He announced that the farming and agricultural union will ask the next Balearic agricultural minister to commit to securing the regional eligibility for this subsidy. A demand should also be made “to Madrid” that they include the increase in the subsidy -500 euros per hectare had been considered a fair option. He demanded a solution to difficulties being experienced in 2003, since this year the EU will not be giving financial assistance to to nut producers.