Spain’s agricultural sector: Rising discontent versus economic reality

Spain’s agricultural sector: Rising discontent versus economic reality

Fecha: abril 2020

José Colino Sueiras

Renta agraria, Productividad, Agricultura

Spanish and International Economic & Financial Otlook, SEFO, V. 9 N.º 2

Despite the emergence of some slightly negative trends in 2019, according to official data, the Spanish agricultural sector has enjoyed a favourable decade from a productive standpoint. Importantly, the sector’s performance was resilient in the face of the Great Recession, when other significant productive sectors of the Spanish economy experienced a collapse. While last year’s performance was further complicated by the introduction of US tariff hikes, which had a disproportionately adverse impact on certain agricultural sub-sectors, such as olive production, at the overall sector level, the recent trends in Spanish farming prices and salaries do not clearly explain the negative sentiment and rising social discontent within the sector at present. Within this context, it is plausible that the current tensions within the sector are more a product of other issues, such as uncertainty over EU agricultural support programs, as well as social issues, such as rural depopulation and ageing, the lack of business succession in certain communities, harsh working conditions and a lack of a healthy work-life balance. Although targeted public policies may contribute to improving the sector´s current conditions, a more meaningful solution to the sector’s challenges calls on farmers themselves to conduct a critical assessment of the situation and, where necessary and possible, improve their business acumen.

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