The Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Environment of the Government of Aragon, Joaquín Olona, said this Thursday that “Aragon will not be harmed by the reform of the CAP” since “it will maintain its financial record and will see improvements, but maintain the anomalies and it does not give sufficient support to the professional and family model that our proposal defended “.
Joaquín Olona made these statements at a press conference in which he was accompanied by the general director of Agricultural Production, José María Salamero, to offer his assessment of the impact that the National Strategic Plan presented by the Minister of Agriculture, Luis Planas , at the Sector Conference on October 20, after the analysis of this document.
Olona, who was already very critical of what he called the “political approach” of the Plan after the sectoral conference on Agriculture on October 21, wanted to once again make clear his “total disagreement” with the document due to its “continuity” orientation. , in which historical rights are maintained, and that in his opinion “is not going to solve any of the problems that Aragon revealed.”
Specifically, the counselor has referred to the “family and professional model” defended in the document ‘Position of the Autonomous Community of Aragon on the reform of the CAP’, shared by a majority of political parties and agrarian organizations.
In this sense, Joaquín Olona has pointed out that, now, “it is only necessary to rush the technical margins” so that it is “as favorable as possible” to the farmers and ranchers who really live from these activities.
Despite their discrepancies, Olona wanted to confirm that “Aragon will not be harmed by the reform, but will see improvements.” He has ensured that “it will maintain its financial record of the CAP, but without significantly improving its distribution in favor of the family and professional model, the least productive territories and the most critical sectors such as extensive sheep”, he added.
During the years 2016-2020, the total aid attributable to the Common Agricultural Policy has been 542 million euros, of which 463 million have been earmarked for direct income support, according to data provided by the Department of Agriculture, Livestock and Environment.
The CAP aid has reached 40,004 beneficiaries and the average age is 61 years. Of these, only 8.52 percent are under 40 years old and 29.20 percent are women. The average annual perception per beneficiary was 10,221 euros.
Among the improvements that he has assured that may be perceived is the increase in total income support in Teruel of “up to 12%”, although, he said, these are amounts that “continue to seem low to us.”
This global support for rents in the Teruel regions will also reach Monegros and Bajo Cinca, where decoupled payments per hectare are now lower, and will allow an equalization with the regional average.
Rural development plan
The counselor has emphasized the progress made in the co-financing of the Ministry in the Rural Development Plan (PDR) for Aragon 2021-2027, where the budget received will practically double, since it exceeds 80 million euros in the PDR 2014-2020, to the 156 million awarded for the new stage.
This amount represents 14% of the total ministerial funds in this section – 1,087 million – and the second highest amount of all the Communities, only surpassed by Castilla y León – with 200 million -, and will mean “freeing the stress “to the Government of Aragon, which was forced to resort to its own funds so as not to waste a single euro of EAFRD funds.
Olona has emphasized the opportunity that eco-schemes, a new figure of emerged as a reinforcement of environmental ambition, to improve income support, since historical rights are not applied to them and they represent 23% of the amount of the First Pillar of the CAP.
The counselor has detailed that Aragón could benefit from the fact that one of the criteria applied to eco-schemes, that of crop rotation, includes fallow, which is the traditional system in the drylands of the Community and would allow obtaining these aid, as well as the no-tillage eco-scheme in which “we are very advanced in our region.”
Likewise, Olona has highlighted the achievement that, in the application of the eco-schemes, the regions have been reduced to seven, as requested by Aragon.
Another of the fronts claimed by Aragon for the new CAP was support for extensive livestock, especially sheep, where it was achieved that the aid associated with the latter, which is charged per sheep, will increase by 18%.
However, Olona has considered this progress “insufficient”, due to the excessive number of coupled sectors, and due to the “ineffectiveness” of aid to livestock based on payments per hectare, which benefits historical rights, subtracting money from “farmers with cattle “.
For the counselor, improvements in the distribution by crops could reduce territorial grievances, but they will not significantly reduce the income gap suffered by professional farmers and ranchers, and it is even possible that this gap will be widened.
The Department of Agriculture considers that the changes with respect to what was originally foreseen for woody crops will allow access to direct payments for a significant part of the area of fruit trees, making use of the increase in the allocation provided for by the Plan. National Strategy for the National Reserve of Rights.
Despite his criticisms, Joaquín Olona has wanted to highlight some aspects of the new Common Agricultural Policy in which he has taken up the proposals of Aragon and has highlighted in a special way “the link of the new CAP to income, just as we have been defending from Aragon, it is evident if one takes into account that its main component will be called Basic income aid “.
Women and youth
Likewise, he recalled the inclusion of an additional payment of 5% for women and young people in the Redistributive Income Aid, in line with what Aragón proposed, although it will not be “for professionals only, as we requested”. Olona, which will prevent this measure from “contributing as it should to the rejuvenation of the sector or to the incorporation of women.”
Olona wanted to emphasize that the unfavorable situation of Teruel has been compensated for in the First Pillar aid due to the preference of the Government of Aragon in the application of the Second Pillar. This, the counselor pointed out, “has allowed the total aid to the average income per beneficiary from the two pillars, of 9,795 euros, to be even above that of Zaragoza (9,289 euros)”.
For the person in charge of Agriculture, this resource “is not a good practice” but it will be necessary to maintain it since the First Pillar continues being “insufficient”.
Olona has insisted that these compensations are necessary since the Teruel province continues to present the average agricultural income per most unfavorable beneficiary of the three Aragonese provinces.
The insufficiency of the agricultural income is clear if one takes into account that only 6.8 percent of the Aragonese beneficiaries reach or exceed the reference income, reducing to 3.81 percent in the case of Teruel.