The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Luis Planas, reiterated this Monday that there will be no food shortages in Spain despite the strong impact that the war in Ukraine, one of the main granaries in Europe, is having on the agri-food sector. Planas has advanced that the Government works to import raw materials from outside the EU to have a greater supply.
“It is not a situation, much less one of the most serious. We have a very high level of food supply and it is a source of pride. We have a level of food autonomy that allows me to say that there is no problem of shortages, despite the images that are coming out of hoarding products, which makes no sense”, Planas assured during his participation in the Europa Press Informative Breakfasts .
However, Planas has recognized that Spain suffers from “elements of vulnerability”, as in the case of corn, of which it imports 22% to Ukraine, or the half million tons of sunflower oil it buys. “We are trying to respond to these purchases by facilitating imports to the EU”, he assured. The minister has indicated that the Government maintains contacts to bring raw materials from Argentina and the United States, among other markets.
Planas explained that the Government plans to lift the restrictions shortly to allow the arrival of grain from Argentina, especially corn, after last Friday the corresponding committee of the European Commission authorized the Member States to lift some technical restrictions linked to the maximum residue limit, but always “within the full guarantee and safety of the agri-food trade”. There are corn stocks for a period of between 45 to 60 days in Tarragona. “We are trying to respond to these purchases by facilitating imports to the EU,” he said.
The Government will take measures imminently. “Today we meet with the grain importing sector and we hope in the next few hours to issue a resolution that will allow us to overcome the technical obstacle we had,” he advanced. Planas has acknowledged that he has held a “very constructive” meeting with the Argentine Minister of Agriculture, Julián Andrés Domínguez, to seal these new trade relations.
Regarding the supply problems of sunflower oil, of which industries such as candy and canning have warned, Planas has assured that it is working on “alternative supplies”, and has defended the quality of olive oil as a substitute.
He knows in depth all the sides of the coin.
Regarding fertilizers, which are directly linked to the price of gas, he assured that Spain is in a better situation than other countries, since more than 50% of its supply is domestically produced. Questioned about the increase in energy prices, Planas has recognized that the Government is willing to act, as the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, has already advanced, after the informal European Council that took place last week in Versailles (France) .
Regarding the possibility that the Executive touches the taxation of fuels to lower the bill, Planas has recognized that it is “one of the variables”. “We are in an exceptional moment and we will have to take it into account.” The head of Agriculture has stated that a European aid package will be put together that will serve, together with the Government’s “powerful shock plan”, to respond to the problems that are arising after the start of the war. “It is very important that we use the same energy and determination that we have had to adopt sanctions at a European level to this unjust situation to respond to the problems we have in the agri-food field and offer an effective response”, he stressed.
The Minister of Agriculture has advocated promoting food autonomy in Europe. “The EU is the largest exporter and importer in the world. We have almost everything, but we have identified some bottlenecks, so we have to move towards having our own production. We are not in danger, we are at a remarkable height and we want to go further. We are not an island in the world and what happens in the rest also concerns us”, he stressed.
Temporary exceptions in the CAP
Asked if the future Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is adequate to deal with the crisis, the head of Agriculture estimates that the “orientation towards a sustainable agri-food production system cannot be reversed”. “This is planet A and there is no planet B”, he has emphasized.
“Spain has requested certain temporary and unique exceptions in the application of the CAP, but let’s not lose the perspective of the forest, that this CAP has an income support orientation and an environmental orientation that is totally necessary”, he said, aware of that sustainable production entails higher costs, so work must be done to “make food supply compatible with environmental objectives”.
In this sense, the Minister of Agriculture has recalled that Spain will have more than 55,000 million euros over the next three to five years. “I believe that it is possible to make food supply compatible with environmental objectives”, stated Planas.