Goodbye to the peasantry? The supermarket always wins

Goodbye to the peasantry? The supermarket always wins

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By Esther Vivas

Agriculture, in the Spanish State, has gone from being one of the main economic activities to an almost residual practice. In 1900, 70% of the active population worked in the agricultural sector; in 1950, it had decreased to 50% of the total; in 1980, it only represented 19%; and in 2013, it totaled a meager 4.3%. Agricultural holdings, likewise, are disappearing at great speed. In the period from 1999 to 2009, in just ten years, these decreased by 23%, according to the Agrarian Census of the National Institute of Statistics 2009. Soon there will be no peasants in the field.

Fewer and bigger farms. Business concentration is another reality in the agricultural world. Between 1999 and 2009, despite the closure of farms, those that were maintained, in all autonomous communities, increased their extension. Although the largest increases occurred in Galicia, La Rioja and Cantabria. In livestock, the dynamic was repeated: the number of holdings of each species of livestock decreased, but the average number of heads increased. Castilla y León was at the forefront of cattle and sheep production and Catalonia was the first in poultry and pig production, both communities with the highest number of specimens of each of these species. By the way, in Catalonia there are practically as many pig heads as there are people.

Agricultural income in general terms, in recent years, has also fallen, despite the fact that in 2013, it increased by 7.7% after several years of being stable or in free fall. According to data from the Coordinator of Organizations of Farmers and Ranchers (COAG), the agricultural sector in the last decade has lost 23% of its income. Likewise, production costs continue to rise, and currently represent 93% of agricultural income as a whole. Rising prices for energy, fertilizers and feed have made a decisive contribution to the increase. Income decreases, expenses only increase. Prices at origin and destination

The differential between the price paid at origin to the producer and the one we pay in the store or supermarket continues to rise. If in June 2013, the price of the food product from origin to destination was multiplied by 3.79 on average, a year later, in June 2014, the amount was multiplied by 4.52, according to the Price Index at Origin and Destination of Food. Those products with the greatest increase in cost were zucchini, cabbage and aubergine, with a percentage differential between the price at origin and destination of 950%, 808% and 717% respectively. Ultimately, who produces what we eat is who receives the least money.

Hence, the COAG, the Union of Consumers of Spain (UCE) and the Spanish Confederation of Organizations of Housewives, Consumers and Users (CEACCU) promoted a non-law proposal on the commercial margins of agri-food products, which was approved by the Congress of Deputies in 2008. The proposal called for greater transparency in the process of setting prices throughout the food chain, for the creation of a Price Observatory to control and sanction bad practices in setting prices. of the amounts, to act to eliminate speculation in the agri-food markets and implement a double labeling system (origin prices / destination prices) that allows knowing the real value of food and detecting distortions interested in prices, among other measures. Although from said to fact ...

The supermarket always wins

Selling at a loss by supermarkets, selling below the price at which the producer is paid, is another common practice, although it is prohibited by the administration through the Law on the Regulation of Retail Trade and the Law on Unfair Competition. Large distribution, however, uses this measure in order to retain its customers, selling some products, the so-called "relamo products", at a very low price. Despite receiving less money from its sale, it compensates with the increase in the commercialization of other merchandise.

Olive oil has been, in recent years, one of the agricultural products hardest hit by this practice, now it seems it is the turn of rice. But, all that glitters is not gold. The consumer thinks that he saves with these methods, although once in the ‘super’ what he stops paying in one product he ends up paying in another. Large distribution always wins.

Meanwhile, these practices have a disastrous effect on the countryside, since they put downward pressure on the price paid at source for said foods, leading to the ruin of the farmer. Without going into analyzing, on the other hand, the fraud that often occurs with these practices, when they sell us, for example, extra virgin olive oil at an extremely cheap price, and when analyzing the product it turns out that it is not the oil top quality they told us.

Many peasants, faced with these operations, have to end up closing their farms. So if these disappear, who will feed us? Who will produce and distribute the food? I think the answer is clear: a few companies that control each of the sections of the food chain. These are multinationals such as Dupont, Syngenta, Monsanto, Kraft, Nestlé, Procter & Gamble, Danone, Carrefour, Alcampo, El Corte Inglés, Mercadona, just to name a few. So do we have guaranteed food?

Esther alive

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