Farmers want recognition in State of Nation debate/  Council of State 

Complain there is (still) no structural solution to water scarcity

The Confederation of Portuguese farmers (CAP) has called on parliamentary groups and the President of the Republic to ensure that agriculture and the rural world are not forgotten in the upcoming debate on the State of the Nation and in Friday’s Council of State.

In a statement released today, CAP argues that ignoring discussion of these issues – namely the fight against water scarcity, which “must be a national ambition” – is “ignoring 90% of national territory”.

For the confederation, there is currently “no strategy to guarantee a structural solution” to water scarcity – “only short-term palliative measures”.

What farmers want is “a consistent and predictable policy to mitigate the effects of drought, so that the agricultural sector is not compromised for the future.

“CAP proposed that the RRP (Recovery and Resilience Plan) could be used for this purpose. If not, it is important to find appropriate funding(s) to finance a strategy to combat water scarcity, which is essential and already late”, says the statement.

The confederation lists five other issues that it believes need to be on the table for debate in parliament and in the President’s advisory body (the Council of State)

The first is the Common Agricultural Policy Strategic Plan (PEPAC), which establishes support for Portuguese agriculture in the period 2023-27 and which CAP considers to be “fundamental that the Government changes”, given the “bad acceptance” it has had by the nation’s farmers.

“It is essential (…) that it can be redesigned later this year, listening to the sector, to unlock its potential to generate investment in agriculture and induce modernisation (…) as it stands, PEPAC is not an instrument for the development of Portuguese agriculture”, insists the federation which has been at loggerheads with Agriculture minister Maria de Céu Antunes for almost the entirety of her tenure.

The second central theme is the 2023 Single Application (PU) campaign – still ongoing and corresponding to the operationalisation of the first year of PEPAC – which CAP considers “could hardly have gone worse“.

While it is not yet possible to carry out a final assessment of the current PU campaign, the confederation considers it “essential to do so as soon as possible” and to ensure that “successive postponements regarding the application deadlines do not jeopardise the timely and increased receipt of aid due in October.

“The Government must make this commitment to MPs in the State of the Nation Debate!”, CAP emphasises.

Returning to its displeasure with what it calls “disarticulation in the Ministry” of Agriculture, which it stresses “has never been so visible and palpable” and which “is truly penalising the entire rural world, CAP stresses another item on the agenda has to be its troubles getting through to Ms Antunes.

“The transfer of the ‘forest’ to the Ministry of the Environment – which ignores the economic and productive aspect of this sector – and integration of regional agricultural directorates into the Coordination Commissions has only contributed to aggravating the situation”, says the statement

Finally, the confederation wants to see MPs discuss Rural Development (PDR2020) and the Recovery and Resilience (PRR) plan.

Regarding the PDR2020, it warns of the need to ensure financial execution, stating that the May data point to €1.114 billion  to be executed, and that “2023 is already the first of three years of extension that should serve to close the programme and not to guarantee the execution of 19% of it”.

With regard to the RRP, CAP calls for a reallocation of funds “that allow greater resilience of the agricultural sector”, considering that the plan “completely ignored the strategic vision and thinking that was at its genesis, when it recognised agriculture as an essential sector in Portugal’s recovery”.

As Lusa explains, CAP sees the “residual slice” that the RRP has specifically devoted to its sector as sign that the government is “transforming the RRP into a mechanism for expanding the State’s financial resources” – with almost 40% of the Future Land Agenda earmarked for renovation of the ministry’s own infrastructure.

Source: LUSA