They design a government plan focused on achieving profitability in the primary sector and are committed to improving the management of protected natural areas.

Oct 2, 2023 | Current affairs, Featured, Revista Lloseta, Thursday Daily Bulletin, Tradition

The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Natural Environment, Joan Simonet, appeared today at his own initiative before the Economy Committee of the Parliament of the Balearic Islands to give an account of the main lines, objectives and challenges that will mark this legislature. In this sense, he detailed the main axes of the four general directorates (DG) integrated into the Consellería: the DG of Agriculture, Livestock and Rural Development, the DG of Fisheries, the DG of Agri-Food Quality and Local Product and the DG of Natural Environment and Forestry Management.

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Primary sector

Simonet began his speech by stressing the importance of the profitability of farms. “Agriculture is not poetry or folklore, it is an economic activity. It generates a whole series of social benefits that are not economically compensated, such as the maintenance of the landscape, local varieties and native breeds, the conservation of biodiversity or the fight against climate change,” he said. For all this, he stressed the fact that both agriculture and fishing have to be profitable: “Nobody will raise cows or go fishing if they lose money”.

Secondly, the counsellor has referred to the natural environment and forest management. Thus, he stressed that the “natural environment in our Consellería corresponds to those areas that we have to manage, with outstanding ecological values and containing habitats of species and that their characteristics have to be preserved and protected”. Even so, Simonet added that this does not mean that protecting has to be “systematically” synonymous with prohibition: “Protection has to be rather related to management and regulation,” said the counsellor. In this sense, he stressed the fact that, while ensuring their conservation and protection, these areas have to be enjoyed by the population and our visitors, without losing sight of the fact that much of the surface that comprises them is in the hands of private property. Thus, Simonet assured that the success of conservation depends on a symbiosis between public and private management.

As for forest management, the counsellor recalled that it was and is an agricultural activity, as recognized in the agricultural law currently in force, but has been abandoned. In this sense, he said that it is essential to recover it in a more effective way to generate income on farms, whenever possible. “This forest management will reduce the chances of fires. Fires are the great enemy of the natural environment,” said Simonet.

Agriculture, Livestock and Rural Development

The counsellor explained that with the arrival of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), important challenges are acquired, a fact that means that we assume more resources, but also more commitments. “We think that the CAP is a good opportunity and that it will be positive for the Balearic Islands”. It should be remembered that the CAP 2023 campaign has significantly increased compensation for insularity. With the initial forecasts, it is estimated that there may be an increase in funding of 35%. “The challenge we now face is to streamline payments, simplify procedures as much as possible and make a detailed analysis of the real impact to propose corrections in case of detecting inefficiencies,” stressed the counsellor. Simonet stressed that CAP aid will allow modernization of the sector, with investments to improve the competitiveness of farms and compensate those specific production systems for which our farmers opt.

In the same way, the counsellor explained that all the measures corresponding to the insularity linked to the CAP will be developed and will also work on the development of the REB to compensate for this insularity. “We want our farmers to be able to compete with equal cost conditions and sales opportunities than any other farmer on the continent,” said the minister.

On the other hand, Simonet has indicated that agriculture with more possibilities of obtaining profitability by itself is the one linked to water. “The groundwater resources are limited, that is why this Government will bet on purified water with the improvement of irrigation infrastructures, the development of the general irrigation plan and the creation of the Irrigation Agency”, explained the minister.

As for the agrarian law, Simonet has stressed that it has to have the same spirit of consensus as the first law of 2014. The aim is to facilitate agricultural uses in agricultural land; clarify the legal framework of farms before the other administrations; define concepts and articulate; allow complementary activity to the agricultural activity in order to improve its profitability; and improve opportunities for direct sales.

As for livestock, the counsellor has pointed out that it is perhaps the most difficult subsector of the Balearic primary sector. Simonet recalled that in the last legislature, at the request of the PP in Parliament and with the support of the House, a strategic plan for livestock was drafted. This plan, which is now in the last review by the sector to be developed in the coming years, includes measures to find reductions in production costs with fodder, improve animal welfare, actions in slaughterhouses, quality plans and characterization of livestock products.

Simonet wanted to mention the Nuts Plan, which is a little behind schedule but must be revitalized and implemented. In addition, he has valued the importance of organic agriculture, a transversal model that represents an opportunity for our farmers, provided that added value is given to the product. “We will develop a plan to develop and improve business opportunities for this type of production,” said the councillor.

Simonet also explained that, at the request of the sector, the Climate Change Board will be created. The counsellor has pointed out that research is fundamental. “In a community where, unfortunately, research by private entities on agricultural and fisheries issues is scarce, the importance of public action is essential,” he said. Therefore, it will focus on the actions to be developed by the Institute for Research and Training in Agri-Food and Fisheries of the Balearic Islands (IRFAP), which is the body responsible for setting the Balearic strategy to improve agricultural knowledge. “Agricultural research is a long-term commitment and it is essential that it has a broad consensus to have continuity and thus obtain results. For all this, it is important that the IRFAP has the relevant facilities both in infrastructure and land (farms and laboratories) for research.”