Southern Farmers Association criticizes the minister’s “inelegance”

At issue, lack of payment for eco-schemes, namely integrated production and organic production

The president of ACOS – Associação de Agricultores do Sul today criticized the “inelegance” of the Minister of Agriculture, Maria do Céu Antunes, of “blaming the officials” regarding the cut in eco-regime funds.

Present at the farmers' demonstration on the border of Vila Verde de Ficalho, municipality of Serpa (Beja), where the National Road 260 (EN260) is cut in both directions, the president of ACOS, Rui Garrido, considered that the minister committed an “inelegance towards its employees” from the Agriculture and Fisheries Financing Institute (IFAP).

“As if the minister didn’t know that the money that was paid wasn’t enough”, he argued, alluding to statements by Maria do Céu Antunes, on Wednesday.

Also alluding to today's statements by the Minister of Agriculture to SIC, Rui Garrido insisted that the government official reiterated that “it was IFAP's fault” and that “this fact is very bad for him, sending the blame to the employees”.

“No one with common sense believes that the minister did not know that the money that was foreseen to pay for these eco-schemes, namely integrated production and organic production, would be missing”, he argued.

For farmers, he stressed, “what the minister says is not usually written”, therefore, the attitude is the same, despite the support announced in the meantime: “We are here a little [waiting to] see to believe, it is not?".

The president of ACOS joined, this morning, the farmers who, at 03:00, crossed the EN260 in the Vila Verde de Ficalho area, a few kilometers from the border with the Spanish town of Rosal de La Frontera, in Andalusia.

The protest initially included around 100 tractors and agricultural machines, which were crossed on the road, in successive lines, and almost the same number of farmers, but, throughout the morning, more vehicles and people arrived.

According to the organization, the Civil Farmers Movement of Portugal, the blockade already brings together 180 tractors and agricultural machines, as well as a few hundred 'men of the land', from municipalities such as Serpa, Moura, Mértola, Barrancos or Beja.

Groups of farmers are present for a few hours and leave, being replaced by others, but there are always people arriving and leaving the protest, which is being monitored by elements of the GNR.

One of the members of the movement promoting the demonstration, António João Veríssimo, from Beja, admitted that farmers “are exhausted” and that, upon being “surprised by a 35% cut [in aid] in organic farming, which is the big cake , and 25% in integrated production”, just “24 hours from the date of payment”, this was the fact that “made the cup overflow”.

“Which producer can withstand a cut of this size, having already had more than 40% cuts in aid behind them”, he asked, clarifying that these funds “are not subsidies”, but rather “aid for production so that the food arrives cheaper for everyone’s dishes.”

And now, “the cup really overflowed and we decided to come and demonstrate, cutting a road, which will have an impact”.

“But, if it doesn’t have an impact, it will result in the same as the demonstrations we held before, which was zero”, said António João, aware that the Ministry of Agriculture, with the announced support, ‘turned on’ a “little light”, but the farmers they will “wait, a day, a month, whatever it takes” until this aid is approved by Brussels.