The Confederation of Portuguese Farmers (CAP) will be in Brussels between Wednesday and Friday to ask the agriculture commissioner to approve the 60 million euros in state aid owed to the sector.
The confederation is traveling to Brussels with a delegation of around 20 people, led by its president and made up of members of the board and the technical team.
“The first point to highlight is the meeting with the Agriculture Commissioner, which, in the situation we’re in, is a very important meeting because the European Commission has to authorize the request for state aid that the government has made in order to pay farmers what it should have paid them previously,” said CAP president Álvaro Mendonça e Moura, speaking to Lusa.
At stake is an amount of 60 million euros, which is part of the support package for the agricultural sector announced by the government.
The meeting with the Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Janusz Wojciechowski, is scheduled for Wednesday at the European Commission’s headquarters.
“It’s very important that the European Commission takes a decision quickly […]. I hope [the payment] will be made in the next few weeks. Farmers cannot wait indefinitely for this,” stressed Álvaro Mendonça e Moura.
For the CAP president, the second major issue to be addressed is the amendment to the Common Agricultural Policy Strategic Plan (PEPAC), which the confederation argues the government should “present immediately” to Brussels.
On the same day, CAP will hold a meeting at the Committee of Professional Agricultural Organizations (COPA) on the organization’s functioning and activities.
The agenda for Thursday includes a public session with the agricultural confederations of Germany, Belgium, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands to “analyze the general situation of farmers in Europe”, a meeting with MEPs and a meeting with Portugal’s Permanent Representation to the European Union (REPER).
At this last meeting, CAP will inform REPER of the conclusions of the meeting with the Agriculture Commissioner.
The trip ends on Friday with a visit to an agricultural production in Flanders.
During the working day, the confederation also wants to draw attention to issues such as the lack of measures to support production and a structured vision for agriculture, forests and the rural world in Portugal.
On Friday, CAP accused the Minister of Agriculture, Maria do Céu Antunes, of making a “political maneuver” with the approval of 320 million euros for the sector, stressing that only 60 million will be paid out this year.
On Thursday, the Council of Ministers approved a resolution with 320 million euros in support for the agricultural sector, aimed at mitigating the impact of the drought and inflation on production costs.
Contacted by Lusa at the time, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food explained that this amount is part of the support package for the sector, with more than 400 million euros in funding, which was launched by the government.
The rest of the money refers to support that depends on the “green light” from Brussels, he said.
The government had announced a support package of more than 400 million euros to mitigate the impact of the drought and reinforce PEPAC, which did not stop the sector’s demonstrations.
The farmers, who are demanding a more flexible CAP, fair working conditions and competition, the right to adequate food and the valorization of their activity, have decided to maintain the scheduled protests, arguing that the aid is “a handful of nothing”, given that no deadlines or payment methods have been defined.
Desde então, a ministra da Agricultura, Maria do Céu Antunes, tem vindo a reunir-se com o Movimento Cívico de Agricultores, associações e confederações representativas do setor.