Planas opens a gap in the Government by proposing aid to the field by the SMI

Farmers' strong protests over the increase in the Minimum Interprofessional Wage have ended up creating a “waterway” in the Pedro Sánchez coalition government. The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Luis Planas, opened a gap on Monday with the rest of the Cabinet to point the possibility of establishing bonuses or incentives that reduce the impact of rising wages in the increase in agricultural unemployment, something that had been categorically rejected by the Minister of Labor, Yolanda Díaz. Nadia Calviño, on the other hand, has refused this Monday to lower the SMI in Extremadura.

Thus, the differences between Planas and the Government's thesis on the SMI were very clear. The Minister of Agriculture recognized in an interview in Canal Sur Radio that the rise of the SMI “conditions” agricultural activity. His diagnosis directly clashes with the position maintained by Díaz, who strongly denied any relationship between the rise of the SMI and the increase in unemployment that both agrarian organizations and the president of Extremadura, Guillermo Fernández Varas, had denounced. The regional leader blamed the loss of 8,000 jobs in that community in the agricultural sector to the increase of the Minimum Wage, agreed between Government, employers and unions.

“The Spanish countryside is undergoing a process of transformation. It is a structural problem, which is not affected by the SMI,” the minister replied to Fernández Vara, while the government disdained the position of the Socialist Baron Extremadura, approving the rise the next day set.

The vision in Atocha, headquarters of the Ministry of Agriculture, is very different from that of the minister. Although Planas says that “nobody thinks that the salary of the farm worker has to be different from that of the services sector or from one territory of Spain to another, something that would go against the constitutional principle of equality among all Spaniards,” he acknowledged that The rise of the SMI “conditions” agricultural activity, along with other aspects, such as the price of water or fertilizers.

The differences with the Minister of Labor did not remain there. Like this while Yolanda Díaz was opposed a week ago to measures that supposed to “territorialize” the SMI, the holder of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Food portfolio, admitted the possibility of adopting complementary bonus or incentive measures in the agricultural sector, if they are considered necessary after analyzing the effect of the rise in the Minimum Interprofessional Salary (SMI) as was done “on previous occasions”.

In the dialogue table with the agrarian organizations one tries to put to the numerous problems of the sector

The approval last week of the rise of the SMI ignited the protests that the three main agricultural organizations – Asaja, Coag and UPA – had called to denounce the deep price crisis that the sector is experiencing.

The measure was harshly criticized by Asaja's president, Pedro Barato, who considered that the field could not assume a second 5% rise in the SMI, after the one made last year of 22.3%, which meant the loss of 22,400 jobs in the agricultural sector.

To muffle the protests, which have continued this week, Planas convened on Monday a dialogue table with the main agrarian organizations. In it, attempts are made to agree on measures and schedule to deal with all the problems of the sector, which directly suffer aspects such as price volatility, the negotiation of the new CAP or the tariffs of the United States, whose solution, according to the minister, will require “a joint effort of all, a lot of dialogue and a lot of joint work to be able to get ahead”.

“They are right”

“Our farmers and ranchers are right, they deserve this support and society as a whole has to give it to them,” said the minister, who refused to talk about “a problem of a certain category of larger or smaller farmers, because in the countryside, as everywhere else, there are people who are making good money, people who are very fair and people who are having a bad time, and the immense middle class of Spanish agriculture and livestock deserves support in line with what is happening in France and Germany, where problems are very similar to what we have in Spain today, “he said, responding to the secretary General of UGT, Pepe Álvarez, who had blamed the protests against the Minimum Interprofessional Salary to “the right carca and landowner”.