Parliament approves Climate Action department name change after farmers' protests

New Department of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Climate Action will have same scope of competence

A farmer gets out of his tractor at a blockade on the AP-7 near Ampolla
A farmer gets out of his tractor at a blockade on the AP-7 near Ampolla / Jordi Marsal
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

March 8, 2024 02:11 PM

"Actions not words," is a cry that politicians are used to hearing, but farmers' protests have in fact led to a lexical change in what was known as the Climate Action department. 

The Catalan Parliament gave its approval on Thursday to begin the necessary procedures to change the name, from the current Department of Climate Action, Food and Rural Agenda, to the new Department of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Climate Action, maintaining the same scope of competence. 

Parliament also urged the government to create a single window for agricultural paperwork, to reduce bureaucracy in the primary sector and simplify procedures. This is one of the sector's biggest complaints and it was backed by almost all parties. 

Another measure backed by Parliament was to ask the government to present a study on a Basic Agricultural Income for small farms by the end of the year. This proposal came from governing party Esquerra Republicana (ERC). 

The chamber also officially noted its criticism of the "inaction" of the government and its lack of foresight and mismanagement in farming matters. Parliament approved proposals on the subject presented by the Socialists and Catalunya En Comú. 

Farmers' voices heard

Representatives from the farming sector appeared in Parliament on Tuesday to present their grievances.

In early February, thousands of farmers blocked Catalonia's main roads and then marched to Barcelona, bringing the city to a standstill for a day.

Last week, hundreds of farmers continued to protest across Catalonia, blocking several roads for more than 48 hours

Why are farmers protesting?

Red tape is farmers' main concern across Europe. They argue that EU bureaucracy is overly complicated and time-consuming, leading to wasted resources on paperwork. 

Experts note that strict European regulations are affecting farmers' profit margins, with excessive controls on traceability, mandatory training, changing regulations, and challenges in processing subsidies.

While European farmers struggle with burdensome red tape and adhere to strict environmental and food safety laws, a significant portion of the food consumed in the EU is sourced from countries outside the bloc at significantly lower prices.

Catalonia is also experiencing its worst drought on record, and farmers have been facing water restrictions for nearly three years.

Recently, the Catalan government declared a drought emergency in the Ter-Llobregat system, which supplies water to 6 million people. In this area, farmers have had to reduce irrigation by 80% and livestock farmers by half.

To learn more about the farmers' protests, listen to the latest episode of our podcast, Filling the Sink.