Maria do Céu Antunes
Definitely not the farmers' favourite. Maria do Céu Antunes blanked from two agricultural fairs so far this year... image: António Pedro Santos/ Lusa

Minister of Agriculture faces new cold shoulder from sector

Unlikely to be invited to second agricultural fair; if she wants to attend, “will have to buy ticket”

The disdain with which farmers view Minister of Agriculture Maria do Céu Antunes has already been patently demonstrated with the failure to extend her an official invitation to the Ovibeja agricultural fair that took place in Beja recently. But now there is a new ‘disgrace’.

Correio da Manhã reports that she is unlikely to receive an official invitation to the National Agricultural Fair in Santarém. In fact, no member of the absolute majority Socialist government will be receiving an invite, say organisers.

“If the minister decides to come, she can pay her ticket entrance and visit the fair like any other citizen”, Luís Mira, secretary-general of the Confederation of Farmers in Portugal, tells the paper – continuing, with his customary no-holds barred approach:

“The minister of Agriculture reveals total lack of understanding of the reality in the sector. Farmers have mobilised in a way they never have done before, from north to south, but policies still haven’t changed. There is still €1.2 billion in (European funding) for 2014-2022 to execute. These policies have never served Portuguese agriculture. We are discriminated against in relation to the Spanish and French. When it comes to the drought, for example, respected governments have already presented measures. Portugal will ask for help, but no one has been told what kind…”

The National Agricultural Fair takes place from June 3 – 11, and will be officially opened by President Marcelo, who was also invited (and welcomed) at Ovibeja.

The sector’s dissatisfaction with its minister is nothing ‘new’. She has even been described by journalist/ commentator Miguel Sousa Tavares as an agriculture minister who “doesn’t seem to know that she is minister of agriculture”. In other words, it is a perceived failing by those even outside her sector.

[email protected]