The Spanish government has asked the European Commission to activate the “crisis reserve” of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) to help its farmers, who are suffering from a historic drought that threatens harvests. The Spanish Minister of Agriculture, Luis Planas, has justified the request by pointing out that this is an exceptional circumstance that requires a prompt response from the European Commission. Although he has not specified the amount he expects to release for Spanish farmers, the EU’s “crisis reserve,” which is intended to respond to incidents in agricultural markets, has an endowment of 450 million euros.
The Spanish government has also announced a series of tax benefits for its farmers, such as a 25% reduction in income tax, which should benefit 800,000 professionals. Spanish farmers have been suffering from a prolonged drought for several months, which has been aggravated this week by the arrival of an unusually early heat wave. According to the state weather agency (Aemet), temperatures could approach 40°C in the south of the country on Thursday and Friday.
The country’s reservoirs, which store rainwater for use in the drier months, are only at 50% capacity and even at a quarter in some areas, such as Catalonia (northeast). In this region, which is facing its worst drought in decades, authorities have for the first time closed the valves of the Urgell canal, which irrigates 70,000 hectares of crops, to conserve what little water it has left for the summer. The lack of water has led many farmers to forgo spring planting, especially of cereals and oilseeds.
Climate change is contributing to the desertification of the Spanish territory, which today is in the process of desertification in about 75% of its territory. This situation endangers the agricultural sector, which is one of the pillars of the Spanish economy and absorbs 80% of the country’s water.
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