Drought in April: Spain asks EU for help
The Spanish Minister of Agriculture Luis Planas announced tax cuts of around 1.8 billion euro for 828.000 farmers to compensate for the huge losses incurred in the sector due to acute water shortage. Spain is currently the EU country worst hit by drought. The government also asked Brussels for money from the Common Agricultural Policy crisis reserve. Commentators sound the alarm.
Fighting the symptoms is no longer enough
La Vanguardia sees a food crisis looming:
“The decision of the irrigation community of the Comunitat General de Regants dels Canals d’Urgell (Lleida province) to stop irrigating five months earlier than usual due to the water shortage is proof of the seriousness of the situation. ... 50,000 hectares of cultivated land will no longer be irrigated. In the province of Toledo, around 90 percent of the grain that was planted on 300,000 hectares is presumed to have been lost. ... The resulting food shortage will have a major impact on prices. ... The government will have to take new measures to help vulnerable groups. Providing millions in aid to farmers and stock farmers will not compensate for the water shortage or its dire consequences for food production and the environment. We have to accept that our country is facing an enormous problem.”
We need a bold multi-year plan
Heraldo also takes the view that the government must do more:
“This is a step in the right direction because it delivers a quick injection of liquidity. ... However, if, as experts predict, there is very little rain in the next few months and temperatures remain unusually high, bolder and more ambitious measures spanning several years will be needed. ... The [Iberian] peninsula has suffered intense droughts in the last 100 years, but the current one is especially worrying and everything indicates that the next one is just around the corner. This means that politicians and society must negotiate a national water plan to combat the drought and prevent food and energy prices from rising.”