Thousands of farmers march on Lisbon

Waving placards declaring “more hunger, more misery”, thousands of the nation’s farmers converged on Lisbon last week to protest over new laws which force them to pass receipts for the smallest of items.
A head of garlic, a few potatoes, even a sprig of parsley, all these will have to be accounted for under a new ruling that means all producers, large and small, must now register for “commercial activity” at the Finanças tax office and pay monthly social security instalments.
The ruling, say country people, spells ruin for thousands of small producers – many of whom have banded together to raise petitions.
In Lagos, for instance, market traders have independently petitioned Lisbon, saying the new legislation will force hundreds of local people to abandon their land altogether.
Leading last week’s protest, João Dinis of CNA, the national confederation of agriculture, said the protest “wildly exceeded expectations” with the large number of protesters (thought to be as many as 5,000) standing as “a sign of the difficulties” facing small producers up and down the country.
The CNA’s Alfredo Campos told Lusa news agency that it was ironic that 2014 was the international year of the family farmer. Instead of supporting the initiative with forward-thinking policies, he claimed the government was contributing to the desertification of the country, making family farming completely unviable.