Farmers protest in Madrid over low prices affecting their livelihoods

The protest by farm workers in Madrid was good natured. :
The protest by farm workers in Madrid was good natured. : / EP
  • The growers say that supermarket chains offer fresh produce at prices up to four times more than they can sell it for

Several hundred farmers and growers staged a noisy but peaceful protest outside the Agriculture ministry in Madrid on Wednesday. For a time the traffic was halted.

The protesters were complaining about what they say are prices for their produce below the cost of production. They claim that others in the supply chain, including the large supermarkets, are making excessive profit at their expense.

"Agriculture workers don't want politics. We've been in a crisis for 40 years and we want fair prices," said their spokesperson, who is a member of a farming cooperative.

Farmers want the government to fix a price for perishable produce which is linked to the cost of production and for selling at a loss to be banned. In addition, they are campaigning against cutbacks in government and EU subsidies.

One demonstrator, a fifth-generation beekeeper, said that he was worried about the future of his business and that "we have to sell the honey for less than it costs us to make it".

The minister for Agriculture, Luis Planas, has already ruled out fixing minimum prices but has asked for a general effort across society to give farmers a better income. On Wednesday, he was with supermarket chain Carrefour as part of a series of meetings reaching out to big companies now there is a new government.

The final price of produce in supermarkets is generally four times what farmers get paid to grow produce. The most extreme case is potatoes, which are sold for 0.17 euros a kilo but in shops at 1.25 euros.

The demonstration in Madrid was a part of a series of protests across Spain this month as the EU debates likely cuts to the Common Agricultural Policy subsidies now the UK has left the EU.