Farmers in the Balearics are pinning hopes on a government directorate for food production.

01-02-2020Miquel A. Cañellas - Archive

In five regions of mainland Spain last week there were protests to demand specific policies to cut the costs of agricultural production and to generate decent prices for produce. These protests have been organised under the slogan #AgricultoresAlLímite, which can be translated as farmers at their wits' end.

In the Balearics, there is no intention at present to join these protests. The general secretary of the Farmers Union, Sebastià Ordinas, draws attention to the directorate for food production sovereignty, a new body within the agriculture ministry. This directorate, he says, has given the farming industry confidence that there will be genuine promotion of local produce and products. "It is the first directorate of its kind in Spain. We expect that it will have a positive impact."

Ordinas adds that farmers have frozen prices for several years, while the costs of production have consistently increased. "It is essential that real commercial policies are set for local produce."

Joana Mascaró, the executive secretary of the UPA Union of Small Farmers and Stockbreeders, is likewise content with the agriculture ministry's involvement, stressing that prices paid to breeders barely cover the costs of production.

The manager of the Asaja agricultural businesses association, Joan Simonet, argues that it is essential that there are actions to increase the "scarce" profit margins currently being made by farmers. Competition comes from imports from all over the world and from places with much lower costs of production and therefore lower final prices. "We cannot compete with these prices. The margins are very low, and if we add on the increase to the minimum wage, things become impossible."

At the ministry, the director general for agriculture, Biel Torrens agrees that demands being made by farming associations are "more than justified". He notes that the situation of high costs of production and low prices in the Balearics is made worse by the "fact of insularity". While he welcomes the increase in the minimum wage, he concedes that farmers' revenues make meeting this increase "impossible". "We have to mediate in order to raise profitability."

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