MADRID (Reuters) – Spanish farmers blocked major highways with their tractors for a second day and disrupted access to port terminals as anger spreads in Europe’s countryside against high costs, bureaucracy and competition from non-EU countries.
“Some countries don’t respect the rules, they don’t have quality controls,” said Juan, who grows lemons in Andalusia, and was on a blockade in front of the access to Malaga port.
Current lemon prices have ruined his business this year. “They don’t want them not even if I give them away,” he told national broadcaster TVE.
Fed up by the market situation and encouraged by similar protests in other European countries, Spanish farmers took their tractors out of their barns on Tuesday, two days ahead of protests scheduled by the country’s main farmers associations.
Around a dozen major highways were blocked on Tuesday morning all over the country, traffic authorities said.
Over the past few weeks, farmers in European countries including Germany, France and Belgium have held protests that sometimes turned violent.
Farmers say demanding rules imposed on them by the EU to protect the environment make them less competitive than peers in other regions, such as Latin America or non-EU Europe. They also complaint against increasingly obscure bureaucratic measures imposed on them.
The protests prompted the Spanish government to distribute an extra 269 million euro subsidy for as many as 140,000 farmers and the European Commission to scrap a plan to halve pesticide use in the bloc, which farmers oppose.
(Reporting by Inti Landauro and Emma Pinedo; Editing by Sharon Singleton)
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