Madrid rally calls for protection of agri-food sector as energy crisis rages
Madrid, Mar 20 (EFE).- Tens of thousands of people from all over Spain took to the capital’s streets Sunday to call for measures to protect rural economies which have been battered by soaring energy prices forcing sellers to retail below production costs.
More than 100,000 people gathered, according to the authorities, to demand aid for the flailing sector and to safeguard “the future for the countryside”.
Some 1,500 buses arrived in the capital Sunday crammed with protesters who marched through Madrid with tractors, dogs and horses to the sound of trumpets and cowbells as several regional flags fluttered in the wind.
The protest was called by the main agricultural and livestock organizations in Spain and hunting and bullfighting advocates were also in attendance.
The objective, according to organizers, was to “claim the future for villages”.
They demand an action plan to deal with the soaring costs rural sectors face – including the agri-food industry which is one of Spain’s key economic sectors – and the low-profit margins which have been aggravated by the war raging in Ukraine, rocketing fuel prices and a shortage of grains used to feed livestock.
Protesters are also demanding Spain’s new food supply chain law to be rolled out which would allow producers to sell at fair prices and not below production costs.
The parliamentarian for Teruel Existe (Teruel Exists), Tomás Guitarte, who is the only lawmaker that currently represents rural areas affected by depopulation in Spain, said that “agriculture and the rural world could collapse” in the current situation.
The Government “must act quickly to solve immediate problems such as the rise in prices of fertilizers and diesel,” Guitarte added.
The demonstration came after an open-ended strike by truckers which started Monday and is disrupting supply chains, causing road closures and paralyzing key sectors, including the agri-food industry.
The strike has ground some sectors to halt and supermarket shelves are already short of milk and dairy products.EFE