AROUND 10,000 farmers attended a demonstration in Lisbon last week to protest at lack of government financial support over the drought.
Farmers say that their total losses are now approachingtwo billion euros and expressed anger that money from the Common Agricultural Policy’s rural development fund has not been paid in full, alleging that they are owed 200 million euros. They claim that the amount in question should have been paid to 440,000 farmers by October 15. But, by that date, only one in six farmers had received the money, according to the president of the Portuguese Farmers’ Confederation (CAP), João Machado. “This money belongs to farmers and I don’t understand why the minister (Jaime Silva) fails to pay when he is only an intermediary in this matter,” said Machado. He described the situation as “intolerable – even more so when it happens in a dramatic year of drought”.
Machado said that farmers would attempt to negotiate with the government but warned of trouble – “a hot year ahead even if there is no drought” – if no satisfactory settlement was agreed. The farmers’ confederation also demanded that 200,000 tonnes of cereal from Hungary, intended to feed livestock, should be donated freely rather than sold at market prices.
The Ministry of Agriculture issued a communiqué expressing “surprise” at the farmers’ demand for government support, citing 40 million euros available annually in agricultural insurance policies.