The drought continues to lead the different concerns of primary producers and the aid implemented to appease its consequences, in the form of losses in crops as essential as cereals and olive oil, is defined as the focus of interest of the cooperatives. Specifically, the president of the Union of Agri-Food Cooperatives of Navarra (UCAN), Esther Burgui, has asked the Minister of Agriculture Luis Planas this Friday, to include them among the beneficiaries of the same. A position that she has justified in that they are “organizations created by farmers and ranchers and essential, so that they can continue developing their productive activity in a structured and competitive way.” Its weight is especially noticeable in the two crops included, as well as in livestock activity.
This has been conveyed in a meeting held in Pamplona in which the president of Navarra, María Chivite, and the managing director of UCAN, Eva Aoiz, have also helped. At the meeting, the main issues discussed were “the serious drought, the changes in the CAP (Common Agrarian Policy) and the obligations derived from the Digital Exploitation Notebook, cooperative integration and the Food Chain Law”.
As reported by UCAN in a statement, the agri-food cooperatives “are being directly affected” by the drought suffered by the ranchers and farmers who are part of them because, “since they do not have products to market, they cannot cope with some growing fixed costs, as well as input supplies, financial advances and other services that guarantee their members and partners.”
This, in his opinion, “is going to have a strong impact on people who produce food and on activity and life in rural areas where, on many occasions, the cooperative is the main industry, if not the only one.” In this sense, Esther Burgui has transferred some “concrete ideas” to the minister that “could help the cooperatives to alleviate this situation”.
More than 636 million in direct aid
The anti-drought decree, approved on May 11, includes the injection of direct aid for farmers and ranchers for an amount of more than 636 million euros, as well as other measures such as the reinforcement of the public subsidy for contracting insurance policies. Drought insurance of up to 70% of the cost for the crops most compromised by adverse conditions. From Agriculture they estimated the economic cost of all the measures adopted at more than 784 million euros.
Among the adjustments on the table, UCAN has requested “aid for loss of profit generated by the drought, making aspects related to employment more flexible.” There has also been a demand for “flexibility” in the conditions of the marketing contracts signed with the food industry and the OPFH (Organization of Fruit and Vegetable Producers) since the beginning of the year, “which for reasons of force majeure such as drought, unrelated to the cooperative and its members and partners, will not be able to be fulfilled”.
Adaptation of the CAP to the drought
Another “great concern” that UCAN has been able to convey to the minister has been the changes to the CAP, and more specifically, “the difficulties in applying the CUE” (Digital Exploitation Notebook). The CUE, as they have pointed out, “represents a digitization process, which, although it represents an important advance, has been raised in an ambitious way, and its application during the established deadlines is proving very complex for the people who work in the agricultural sector”. In this sense, UCAN has requested the Ministry of Agriculture to establish a transitional period. Burgui has also transferred the “importance, in a stage of strong transformation in the sector, of facilitating the integration of cooperatives that are in nearby towns, thus preventing excessive fragmentation.”