Spanish farmers take to streets for fourth day, plan Madrid protests

By Thomson Reuters Feb 9, 2024 | 9:37 AM

TORIJA, Spain (Reuters) – Spanish farmers on Friday blocked streets across the country in a fourth day of protests and announced plans to gather in Madrid as they railed against the EU’s environmental rules and what they see as excessive taxes and red tape.

Since Tuesday, Spanish farmers have joined peers from Germany, France, Italy, Portugal and Belgium in daily protests that include blocking several highways and ports.

The three main farmers’ associations – COAG, Asaja and UPA – kicked off their demonstrations on Thursday, though many had started earlier in the week.

On Friday, traffic on the A-2 highway to Madrid near the central town of Torija snarled behind a convoy of tractors bearing Spanish flags and blaring their horns, while farmers wearing yellow vests waved baguettes from an overpass at the vehicles below.

“They aren’t letting us work, nor sow what we need to sow: wheat and barley,” said cereal farmer Javier Corral, 63, who described bureaucracy as the main problem they faced.

Farmers across the EU claim the rules to protect the environment make them less competitive compared to other regions.

A viral video on social media appeared to show a group of protesters near the southern city of Jerez grabbing from a truck boxes of cherry tomatoes they said were of Moroccan origin and dumping their contents.

According to newspaper El Mundo, protesters clashed with police near the southwestern city of Merida, lobbing rocks at officers, who deployed tear gas to disperse them.

Plataforma 6, a newly created farmers’ group, said it would gather outside all regional government buildings in Spain, including Madrid. The group is planning protests in the capital on Saturday, it said on X.

The head of business association CEOE Antonio Garamendi expressed solidarity with the farmers’ protests but said they had to be conducted “in moderation to avoid harming other sectors”.

(Reporting by Guillermo Martinez and Marco Trujillo; Writing by Catarina Demony and David Latona; Editing by Andrei Khalip and Charlie Devereux)