22-01-2016Josep Bagur Gomila

The agricultural drought in the Balearics is creating tension between the farming industry and the environment and agriculture ministry. Farmers and livestock holders expressed their "disappointment" at a meeting to study the drought situation. Specifically, they believe that government financial aid of 1.5 million euros is insufficient to cover the additional cost of alternatives that are required because of the loss of grazing crops. Joan Simonet, the head of the Asaja agricultural association, suggested that the minister (Vicenç Vidal) was unaware that cows and goats need to eat every day.

Prior to the meeting, there had been some confidence that Vidal would increase the aid for buying fodder. But this wasn't the case. As a consequence, Biel Torrens, general secretary of the Farmers Union, said that the amount on offer from the government was totally insufficient and would not cover a minimum of the additional costs that farmers face.

Five cents a day to feed a sheep, Torrens explained, was a "paltry" amount, and the situation was getting worse, given that the lack of rain was now into its fourth month. Another industry representative, Joana Mascaró, added to the complaints, noting that crops had been lost. "Even if it starts to rain now, the forage is dead. In Majorca there aren't enough such crops, so there has to be import from the mainland, and this implies a doubling of price."

Asaja believe that the government should assume 50% of the cost of feeding cattle, goats and sheep. This would amount to between four and five million euros. Simonet was not ruling out protests if the government doesn't change its stance.

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