Still looking at the sky while waiting for the long-awaited rains, the agricultural sector did not lose sight yesterday of the appearance of the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, in the plenary session of Congress, where he announced a “national plan to respond to the impact of the war”, which includes specific measures to alleviate the serious effects that the invasion of Ukraine will have on agricultural activity in general, and livestock farming, in particular.
The president was not very specific, limiting himself to stating that Spain will ask the European Union to use all available means to facilitate the supply of cereals and oilseeds in international markets. What’s more, “and if necessary” the activation of the mechanism of the common organization of agricultural markets will be requested, which has a reserve fund -2,800 million- conceived to support the sector in the event of crises affecting production or distribution and that can be used to finance exceptional measures aimed at avoiding market disturbances.
The representatives of the agrarian organizations welcomed the announced measures, but they warned -both the central Executive and the community- that any short-term action must be accompanied by actions that encourage production, guarantee the survival of the family and professional model, promote the necessary tools to improve crop productivity – including biotechnology – and minimize the high and committed dependence (in this case) on cereal imports.
And all of them agreed on the need for the CAP to once again be that productivist policy that was born withWith the aim of supplying society with food at affordable prices and guaranteeing an equitable standard of living for the agricultural population.
“With everything that is happening, the CAP has to be redirected, its incentives have to go to production and not so much to greening and conditionality”, highlighted the general secretary of Asaja in Aragón, Ángel Samper, who also insisted on the need to develop a water policy that guarantees production and defended the application of biotechnology to plant health to guarantee crop yields and less use of phytosanitary products and fertilizers. “This tool is being questioned and then products from third countries enter where they are used without any problem,” he warned.
The president of Araga, Jorge Valero, expressed himself in the same vein, stressing that in the short term it will be necessary to see in which markets the cereal that Spain needs and that until now came from the Ukrainian granary can be obtained. “Everything will depend on the harvest in the United States, Argentina or Canada. The present is very complicated,” Valero said. But the leader of this organization is also concerned about the future, which is why, in his opinion, in the long term it will be necessary to return to an agrarian policy that promotes production. And for that, “We will have to open our hands to the use of fertilizers like those used in other countries,” insisted Valero, for whom “we cannot now go towards the ecological, towards small production”so it is necessary to “reorient” the regulations so that, without losing quality, greater productivity is achieved.
Before assessing Sánchez’s announcement, the general secretary of UAGA, José María Alcubierre, made it clear again that more than the economic effects, “at this time the most important thing is the safety of people living on Ukrainian territory”. But having said this, he was forceful in claiming that “once and for all, after a pandemic and now a war, we are beginning to realize that the agricultural sector is a strategic sector that cannot be left to the mercy of geopolitical conflicts” . He appreciated that the Government is thinking of market measures to deal with the situation, but insisted that if these actions do not focus on the professional model -as it has repeatedly demanded in the new CAP- “they will not do any good”, he said he.
Energy and raw materials
To these measures, the general secretary of UPA in Aragon, José Manuel Roche, added the need for the Government to work on an action plan in the face of the increase in energy and raw material prices. “The increase in costs can become unbearable,” said Roche, who expressed his concern about the complicated scenario that opens up for livestock, especially integrated (with the powerful pig at the head), in which the cost of feed can lead, in the worst case, to a reduction in production. “And that would be a setback for the agricultural income of Aragon,” he pointed out.
The CAP was also referred to by the minister of the branch, Luis Planas, during the extraordinary Council of Agriculture, in which he defended the need for the European Commission to study measures to adapt direct aid to the new scenario, “so that it is possible to increase the availability of areas destined for the production of cereals and oilseeds”reported the Ministry.
The first drops for the dry cereal
The complicated scenario outlined by the invasion of Ukraine also comes at a difficult time for cereal growers, “very concerned” about the drought their crops are suffering. Yesterday rainfall was recorded in Aragon, “very insufficient”, according to the sector, which expects the water and snow to arrive in the coming days, in which “widespread rains that may be generous” are expected.