Barcelona/Tarragona/PontósSince last Wednesday the tractors entered Barcelona via Avinguda Diagonal and Meridiana, all eyes were on the blockade of Mercabarna and the port of Tarragona today. But the cuts in the wholesale market in Barcelona, for now, have been far from meeting expectations: only two dozen tractors have arrived at nine in the morning at the south gate of Mercabarna. It should be noted that many farmers have traveled there by car and not by tractor. This has made it impossible to completely paralyze Mercabarna, which has three doors.
In the rest of the country, however, the protests are becoming more noticeable. In the port of Tarragona, nearly 500 tractors blocked the main gate of the infrastructure in the early hours of this Tuesday afternoon. The demonstrators have arrived from counties such as Alt Camp, Baix Camp and Priorat, among others. The success of the call has meant that the farmers have already decided to spend the night at the port entrances. “We come prepared with food, and we’re already used to it,” members of the Cooperativa de Riudoms explained to the ARA.
In Girona, the call to the N-II near Pontós is also getting a lot of attention. In the early hours of the morning, around 400 tractors from different parts of Girona’s counties parked in the middle of the national road. The farmers who arrived got off the tractors and walked to the AP-7. To do this, they had to overcome a cordon from the Brimo of the Mossos d’Esquadra. Once they managed to break it, they built barricades and entrenched themselves in the middle of the highway. Although at first they had agreed with the Mossos that they would only stay there for lunch, they have now decided to extend their stay: they also intend to spend the night there.
Other effects are also being experienced in the rest of the country. On the one hand, farmers from Osona are settled in the Transversal Axis near Vic. In addition, about fifty cattle farmers also cut the C-38, the road that connects Ripollès with Vallespir and Catalonia North, through the Ares pass. The cutting has started at ten in the morning and the ranchers plan to extend it until twelve at night. The protest has the support of a group of ranchers from Vallespir. In total, more than 1,000 tractors and around 2,000 farmers are mobilized for the protests.
Tractors do not paralyze Mercabarna
In Mercabarna, as soon as the tractors arrived, representatives of the Baix Llobregat farmers and the group that came from Anoia held a meeting with the Mossos d’Esquadra and the management of Mercabarna. At the meeting, they agreed to block two of the market’s entrances and exits: the one in Prat, in the south, where they have been since the first hour, and the one in the north, closest to Barcelona. The pact has also fixed the unlocking hours. Thus, Unió de Pagesos has committed to cancel the cut of the north gate at 2 pm and the south gate at 4 pm. The side door of the market has been kept open at all times.
In this way, even though farmers and ranchers have managed to affect access to Mercabarna, they have not been able to completely paralyze market activity. In total, a hundred farmers traveled to Mercabarna throughout the day. The desire to cut off the wholesale market was not the result of chance: the farmers complain that fresh products imported from countries outside the European Union are marketed from Mercabarna. These foods, according to the protesters, make them unfair competition, since they do not pass the strict health controls that the products of the farmers here must undergo.
Movements in the Generalitat
Protests aside, the government approved this Tuesday the payment of 273 million euros in aid to farmers. The Councilor for Climate Action, David Mascort, has indicated that in the first half of January, 42.5 million euros have been paid out of the 273 million and that in the coming months they will be awarded. The executive council has also explained that it wants to guarantee that any new procedure that depends on the Generalitat will be postponed. This measure aims to address the problem of bureaucratization.
In addition, the president of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, sent a letter this Tuesday to the president of the Spanish government, Pedro Sánchez, to make his own and transfer some of the demands of the farming sector that depend on state competences. Aragonès demands that everything possible be done to simplify the bureaucratic procedures, that the price of diesel for agricultural use be lowered and that the appropriate modifications be made to achieve a food chain law that guarantees fair prices and costs.
For its part, the Spanish government has also moved. The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Luis Planas, will meet with the representatives of Asaja, COAG and UPA on February 15 at the headquarters of the ministry, after the plenary of the Observatory of the food chain will do so tomorrow , where all its links are represented.
The Spanish executive thus offers dialogue to farmers in search of solutions to their problems at a time of agricultural mobilization on the streets and roads in the country due to the crisis in the sector and the policies that affect it.