The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Luis Planas, has announced that the Council of Ministers will approve on March 15 a royal decree law with a series of measures to support the agrarian rector to address the prolonged drought situation. He has advanced that these measures, which involve several ministries, will be of fiscal, social and liquidity, necessary for the difficult situation that some river basins are going through, especially those of the Guadiana and the Guadalquivir.
The minister spoke today at the Europa Press breakfast briefings, where he reviewed the challenges facing the agri-food sector, which has been seriously affected in recent days by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, especially by the interruption of imports of cereals and oilseeds from that country. Also of concern is the rise in gas prices and its repercussions on the production costs of nitrogen fertilizers.
For the Minister, this is an exceptional situation that affects all the countries of the European Union and therefore requires a joint response. According to him, the current situation reminds us that food autonomy is strategic.
Government and social partners agree on the need to respond with unity to the economic impact of war in Ukraine
In his speech, Planas stressed that in Spain we have a high level of food autonomy, so the food supply is “absolutely guaranteed”.
Our country ranks as the 4th largest exporter of agri-food products in the European Union and 8th in the world, with figures that in 2021 reached a new record of more than 60,000 million euros. In the last year, the agricultural sector (plant and animal production) totaled 32.5 billion euros, agricultural income grew by 2.3%; and the whole of the primary sector, agro-industry, inputs and food distribution and transport accounts for almost 11% of GDP.
However, there are certain difficulties in the acquisition of certain products, such as corn, and efforts are being made to respond to these purchases by facilitating imports. Last Friday, the Commission authorized the Member States to lift some technical restrictions linked to the maximum residue limit, “within the full guarantee and security of agri-food trade”. In this sense, a meeting will be held today with the importing sector and, shortly, “we hope to issue a resolution that will enable this technical obstacle to be overcome”.
In relation to sunflower oil, the minister said that imports from Ukraine did not involve large quantities and that Spain, in the field of vegetable fats, “is not badly placed”, since we have a significant volume of olive oil, in all its categories. In short, he added, alternative markets are being sought, but there will be no problem of supply.
FLEXIBILIZATION OF THE CAP
In the field of application of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), Planas has valued the possibility of relaxing, temporarily, the conditions of mandatory crop rotations and have the possibility of planting corn under certain conditions, as well as using fallow land or areas of ecological interest. In any case, for the minister is much more significant and priority to import from other source markets than what we can increase quantitatively.
He indicated that these decisions will be discussed at today’s meeting of the Special Committee on Agriculture of the EU and the one to be held on Thursday, March 17, the Management Committee of the Common Organization of Agricultural Markets, with a view to being adopted at the next Council of Ministers of Agriculture and Fisheries scheduled for Monday, March 21, in Brussels.
Other initiatives that have been requested consist of increasing the advances of CAP aid this year; in the possibility of articulating aid, with an amount of up to 2% of unused rural development funds, with special aid as was done during the period of COVID-19; and to articulate direct aid to the affected sectors, if necessary, based on Article 219 of the CMO.
Planas stressed that these European measures, together with the shock plan in response to the consequences of the war announced this weekend by the President of the Government, may serve to articulate a “powerful package” in response to the current problems. For the Minister, the same “energy and determination that we have adopted to impose European sanctions and try to stop this unjust situation, must be applied to respond to the problems in the food sector”.
Source: Cuaderno Agrario
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