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Catalan Farmers Continue to Rally for Fair Treatment and Sustainable Farming Practices

In a remarkable display of unity and determination, the agricultural sector in Spain, particularly catalysed by the efforts of Catalan producers, has been making headlines for over a month with a series of protests, demonstrations, and tractor-led marches.

These actions have not only drawn widespread support and understanding from the public but have also vividly demonstrated the sector's resilience and vitality.

Josep Carles Vicente, the head of Unió de Pagesos, Spain's leading farmers' union, has been at the forefront of these protests, advocating for the rights and sustainability of the agricultural sector.

February saw an unprecedented mobilisation of farmers across Catalonia, with 4,000 tractors blocking roads and highways, including a significant march to Barcelona and protests reaching as far as the Port of Tarragona and the border crossings with France.

These protests aim to bring critical issues to the forefront of discussions with the sector and administrations, seeking solutions on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), phytosanitary requirements, international treaties, and the transposition of European laws.

Despite some progress, such as the withdrawal of the Sustainable Use of Pesticides Regulation, which proposed halving pesticide use by 2030, many issues remain unresolved.

These include the need for mirror clauses in all EU Member States to protect European producers from dumping by countries with lower production standards and addressing aspects of the CAP that could financially burden producers.

A significant victory was the postponement of the mandatory implementation of the digital ledger, from September 2023 to September 2024, achieved through a tractor march in Madrid. However, Vicente emphasises the importance of making its adoption voluntary to ensure the European agricultural sector's health and future.

Unió de Pagesos is also advocating for the effective compliance with the Spanish Food Chain Law, which requires establishing criteria to determine production costs and ensuring that prices at origin remain above those costs. Without such criteria, it's challenging to define what constitutes a dominant market position and prevent abuse of power, parallel conduct, or anti-competitive behaviour.

The union, part of Unión de Uniones, had proposed this measure in 2019 during the modification of the Food Chain Law, initially approved in 2013.

As negotiations continue, Unió de Pagesos pledges to maintain its protests and actions to demand the necessary measures for the agricultural sector's survival. Vicente warns that, if necessary, they are prepared to extend their protests to logistics and distribution centres to ensure their voices are heard.


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