Some 200 tractors cut traffic on the A-5 highway that connects Extremadura with Madrid to demand the commitment of Pedro SÃ¡nchez to the sector
The Extremaduran cigar makers -which produce more than 97% of this product from all over Spain- have lit the fuse of the demonstrations in the Spanish countryside again this Friday, parked just a year ago due to the pandemic. For this, they have chosen the same symbolic place were in February 2020 the then baptized as The paprika revolution It served to make Spanish society aware of the problem of low prices that farmers suffer when it comes to selling their crops.
In this way, this Friday they have returned, this time with masks, to kilometer 174 of the A-5 highway, at the height of Nalvamoral de la Mata, where almost 200 tractors (those allowed by the Extremadura Government Delegation after having requested 600) cut for approximately four hours, at intervals of time and in both directions, the most direct link that connects this autonomous community with Madrid.
Protest -in which there were no incidents of any kind- It caused significant delays in cars and trucks that were circulating on the A-5 motorway on a day with more traffic than usual when it coincided with the start of the weekend, although there was sensitivity with those drivers who had to reach their destiny with urgency, like the one that had to attend the funeral of a relative. In addition, the Civil Guard enabled one of the two lanes every 20 minutes, approximately, so that it could be circulated again.
Under the motto “Pedro SÃ¡nchez ruins the Extremaduran countryside” that could be read in a large banner placed on one of the bridges of the highway, with this’ tract, the cigar makers have wanted to warn about the “serious threat” of lose at least half of current aid for the new period of the new Community Agrarian Policy (PAC), which will last until 2027-. Thus, producers would lose approximately 14 million euros annually.
The cigar makers blame the government of Pedro SÃ¡nchez for the “null” support received in recent months, since this possible loss of aid was known since even the Minister of Agriculture, Luis Planas, has not yet received the representatives of the sector despite the formal request made by the sector. Spain, along with Poland, is the second largest tobacco growing power in Europe (15%), after Italy.
Ã ?? ngel García Blanco, President of Asaja Extremadura, stressed during the demonstration that “the only person responsible for the disappearance of the tobacco sector is the Prime Minister Pedro SÃ¡nchez” because the European Union Agriculture Commission, through its general director, has authorized each country to have “all the autonomy” to decide the number of producing regions in the new CAP: “If Europe authorizes the tobacco region and Mr. FernÃ¡ndez Vara also asks for it, the only person responsible for the ruin I arrive at Campo AraÃ ± uelo and La Vera is Mr. Pedro SÃ¡nchez, who does not want to authorize the region that is a model of population fixation to the territory such as this area “.
Extremadura is the largest producing region in all of Europe with 97.26% being cultivated -29,000 tons per year- of national production, directly maintaining more than 4,000 families, hence more than 4,000 families through some 1,600 registered producers, which also generate another 4,000 indirect jobs. Furthermore, 54% of the workforce in the collection and first transformation of the product (300 jobs) is female. According to various official studies, including that of the University of Extremadura, tobacco cultivation is the essential economic pillar for the northern province of CÃ¡ceres, with an economic impact of 193 million euros per year (2% of GDP in said Province). 98.4% of tobacco farms receive aid, a percentage higher than the average for the agricultural sector in Spain (76.5%).
For Ignacio Huertas, President of UPA-UCE Extremadura, if this crop is eliminated “a great emigration would take place in the north of CÃ¡ceres, a social catastrophe, because there are also no alternatives to the sector. “Already in the previous period of the CAP, the study of possible substitute crops for tobacco in the area was approved,” but the result was zero, there is no alternative, “he insisted. Huertas appealed to the Minister of Agriculture:” It is already well of good words, the facts are necessary because we cannot live any longer with this uncertainty. “The agrarian leader explained that tobacco is not prohibited, it is legal, “so they cannot fool us anymore because it is justice for the cigar makers and for Extremadura”.
In addition, the agrarian organizations assured that if the Government of Spain does not establish a clear position and defend tobacco and include it in the aid package (the first draft must be made public by the Ministry in May), it will pose a great demonstration in Madrid in front of the headquarters of the ministry led by Luis Planas: “The cigar makers have done their homework, invested in their farms, made a generational shift, made collective dryers to produce in a more sustainable way, to be more competitive and all this cannot be lost by a technical decision that is also taken from an office, “he said.
Currently, Spain has 52 producing regions that Europe intends to reduce by between 7 and 11 for the new aid map for the next period (2023-2027). According to the agrarian organizations, the Ministry of Agriculture has in its power to decide which crops will be excluded from said aid within the turn that Brussels intends to give to this new CAP, greener and more environmentally friendly.
For his part, the president of Cooperativas Agroalimentarias de Extremadura, Ã ?? ngel Pacheco, pointed out that “no one in the entire affected region imagines a future without tobacco and that future involves the recognition of its own region that ensures aid to sector within a moment where the Strategic Plan of the CAP is defined for all sectors except for tobacco “.
The agrarian organizations plan to repeat the mobilizations next March 5 and 12.