It never rains to everyone’s liking says the popular proverb. The recent rains are seen by much of the Spanish countryside as a pleasant surprise. However, the sudden reappearance of rainfall could not have come at the worst moment for the cherry producers of Valle del Jerte (Cáceres): almost 70 million euros in losses, with barely 20% of the harvest harvested, and between 18 and 20 million kilos cracked, rotten or stained by excess moisture. This Thursday dozens of them gathered in front of the Ministry of Agriculture of Extremadura in Mérida (there will be more demonstrations, they say) with a common demand on the part of the main agrarian organizations (Asaja, COAG, UPA, La Unión, Cooperativas Agroalimentarias): the request for direct aid of 4,000 euros per hectare However, the process to assert the receipt of subsidies is complicated by the interim situation of the Extremadura government, until the Assembly of Extremadura is constituted on June 20 and, in the Ministry of Agriculture, for the advancement of the general elections to July 23.
The sources consulted by this means close the door, at least for now, to the fact that the cherry growers can take advantage of the royal decree validated this week by the Permanent Deputation of the Congress of Deputies and point towards two possible paths: the royal decree law against drought ia, approved ‘in extremis’ by the Extremadura executive on May 17 and which obtained the endorsement of the Permanent Deputation of the Assembly of Extremadura; as well as an eventual declaration of a catastrophic area (now known as ‘area seriously affected by a civil protection emergency’) finalized by the Junta de Extremadura and for which it is already preparing a damage assessment. Sources from the Ministry of Agriculture confirmed that they still do not have any official request.
“While Agroseguro estimates that 27% of the area is insured, other agricultural organizations such as UPA reduce this figure to 5%. It will have to be clarified”, Ángel García (Asaja)
For all of the above, it will be necessary to know the exact extent of the damage that the rains have left behind. However, the final survey will not be easy because not all primary producers in Jerte (some 5,000) have insurance. As the president of Asaja Cáceres, Ángel García, pointed out to La Información, “while Agroseguro estimates that 27% of the area is insured, other agricultural organizations such as UPA reduce this figure to just 5%. This point will have to be clarified.” For his part, the technical secretary of La Unión, Luis Cortés, denounced that traditionally they had their own line of agricultural insurance in Valle del Jerte. However, he adds in a conversation with this medium, that “Agroseguro has been raising the premiums and lowering the coverage. It is not currently adapted to the Jerte area.” In this sense, Cortés adds that it has gone from 3,800 policies to just 120.
“Aids are on standby”
Regarding what the Junta de Extremadura can do, García (Asaja) is committed to prioritizing the declaration of a catastrophic area and recalls that the Extremadura executive is in office and admits that, in the current situation, “the aid would remain on standby” and that any direct subsidy has to be approved by the incoming executive (probably of another political color). “The new government has to validate the pending decrees,” says the president of Asaja Cáceres who for other measures such as the remission of the IBI and estimates that this process could take several months.
Cortés, technical secretary of La Unión (Union of Unions), rejects the declaration of a catastrophic zone and, ironically, points out that “one euro has not yet been received for the damage caused by the Efraín storm.” In this sense, they reject the principle that what is not insurable is not eligible and propose that the Board and the Ministry of Agriculture work on separate royal decrees. The first would seek “the same treatment as that given to cereals and livestock” in reference to the Extremadura anti-drought decree approved in full electoral company. “We have already sent the proposal to the four parties that will have representation in the Assembly of Extremadura: PP, PSOE, Vox and Podemos,” explains Luis Cortés.
“Everything revolves around the cherry, if it leaves us, there will be nothing left”, Luis Cortés (La Unión)
He proposes to the Ministry of Agriculture that they be given “the same treatment that was given to the fruit plants of Catalonia and Aragon due to the Diego storm.” Asked about the lesser room for maneuver of the Extremaduran executive for being in office, Cortés believes that he “can assess, and even take the step of approving it in the Governing Council and leave everything ready for the next executive.” Otherwise he thinks they won’t see any help until October or November. “The only industry we have are the conditioning centers. Everything revolves around the cherry, if it leaves us, there will be nothing left,” he concludes.