The noise of the horns of 600 tractors, according to the 27M Platform, or of around 100, according to the Government Delegation, was heard this Monday before the Agricultural Policy Department in Merida, where hundreds of agricultural professionals gathered to demand decent prices that guarantee the profitability of their farms.
"If this is not fixed, war, war, war" or "Vara, listen, the people are fighting" were two of the chants shouted by those attending this protest, which partially blocked the traffic in the roundabout located in front of the Council.
The tractors, "400 of them coming from Las Vegas Altas", arrived later than scheduled due to the fog and to the fact that "they had to use additional lanes, as they had no permission to drive on the highway," reported the president of the 27M Platform, Herminio Íñiguez.
The organizers, which were said platform and the Association of Farmers and Cattle Ranchers of Villanueva de la Serena (Agryga), received the support of the Association of the Jerte Valley and Neighboring Comarcas, which brought two hundred producers to the capital of Extremadura on buses.
At the protest, a manifesto was read and a letter was delivered to the Council requesting an urgent meeting on December 27 with Councilor Begoña García Bernal. The plan is to hand her the proposal that Extremadura should make in the framework of the negotiation of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
The meeting's agenda should also include a discussion on the possible strategies to allow Extremadura's producers to obtain "decent prices." The goal is to prevent further sales at a loss.
They also demand the control of agricultural inputs in order to prevent increases in the price of diesel and electric power in the agricultural sector. Moreover, they want to improve the marketing of agricultural products in the region.
Herminio Íñiguez explained that the platform has again taken the streets after its protests to protect the rights of agricultural professionals were "ignored."
"The only thing we ask is that they protect us. They don't need to give us anything for free, we only want protection and being able to make a living out of our work," said the agricultural representative, who warned of the "chaotic" situation of Extremaduran agriculture, since the profitability of agricultural holdings is at risk.
Herminio Íñiguez has asked the administrations to take measures to ensure the payment of "fair prices" that cover the production costs, as well as the setting of "tariffs on products that do not compete in equal terms of quality, and which come from third countries."
He has also requested "a strong and persistent defense" in Europe ahead of the new reform of the CAP, so that "Extremadura does not lose a cent," recalling the importance of livestock and agriculture for the regional economy.
As an example, he mentioned that last year the cost of fruit was 33-35 cents per kilo, while this time "there have been batches sold for 15-20 cents."
The spokesperson for the Jerte Valley Association, Herialy Salcedo, has called on politicians of all parties to pass "laws to control this free market, so that we can continue living from the primary sector, because people need this sector to be able to eat."
She said that the Jerte Valley is going through a "difficult situation" because of the production cost of cherries. This oscillates between 1.15 and 1.20 Euro per kilo, and in the latest campaign, producers have received "an average of 80 cents per kilo."
According to Salcedo, the price should be "at least 1.50 Euro per kilo, considering the cost of machinery, phytosanitary products, wage payments and family expenses." This circumstance is unfortunately causing people to abandon the primary sector, which in turn is leading to the depopulation of rural areas.