Farmers join opposition parties to protest Spain’s rural policy
Farmers, cattle ranchers and hunting enthusiasts have descended on Madrid to protest the environmental and economic policies of Spain’s centre-left government.
The protest was organized by Alma Rural 2021, a platform representing more than 500 rural groups from all over Spain. Members of opposition parties from the center to the extreme right were present.
The protest comes as Spanish politicians campaign ahead of a snap election in Castilla-Leon, a vast region northeast of Madrid where proposals against depopulation and agricultural policies take center stage.
Carlos Bueno, head of Alma Rural 2021, said the aim of the protest was to draw attention to the plight of the rural world amid the government’s “ideological” attacks.
Participants’ demands ranged from regulating the prices of agricultural products to protecting cattle herders for bullfights and more subsidies to rural industries, among others.
Tractors and bull carts led the march along a Madrid thoroughfare. Among the many banners held by the demonstrators, one could read: “Farmers speak. Who is listening?
In a statement, Spain’s Ecological Transition Ministry said the country’s budget for 2022 includes €4.2bn (£3.52bn) to tackle depopulation in rural areas. Spain’s rural world “does not need populist slogans but political commitment and resources to solve historical problems”, he said.
A row over factory farming has been in the headlines for the past month since Consumer Affairs Minister Alberto Garzon, a member of the far-left junior partner in the Socialist-led administration, slammed the big farms cattle for damaging the environment and producing poor quality food for export. .
His remarks caused a political storm, created divisions within the coalition and led right-wing opposition parties to call for Garzon’s resignation.