“The European Union opens the door to Moroccan chickens and fleeces our farmers.” Spanish chicken producers have just been put on a war footing when it was learned that the European Commission has just opened the community borders to the entry of this meat and turkey from Morocco.
The reaction -which even threatens with mobilizations by Spanish farmers- has not been long in coming after the change in Execution Regulation 2022/1040 was made public, which was published on June 29 in the Official Journal of the European Union (DOUE) in as regards the list of third countries authorized to introduce certain captive birds and their germinal products as well as poultry meat products.
This change has led the Spanish agrarian organizations UPA and COAG to show their opposition and raise the alarm with regard to food safety when Morocco complies with EU standards, for example in antibiotic prohibition or in control diseases such as salmonella: “The effort and responsibility of poultry farmers guarantees the supply of chicken for the coming months, despite the critical situation of farms due to the increase in energy costs (150%) and feed ( 35%) and prices at the threshold of profitability, highlights the person in charge of the poultry sector at COAG, Eloy Ureña. In addition, he rejects this authorization and asks the EU and the Spanish government for “less imports from third countries and more support for local poultry farms to prevent the bankruptcy of 5,000 farms”.
Spanish producers maintain that “for years” Moroccan meat has not met the basic sanitary conditions and, although they do not know “what lies behind this decision” they maintain that “it is not difficult to imagine” that behind this measure is the fact that “Industries want to ensure their chicken supply if low prices end up sinking Spanish farmers.” In Spain there are around 7,000 families that breed chickens and turkeys from Spain. And more than because of the amount of meat that may arrive from Morocco, which is currently not a large producer, it is feared on the one hand because of the quality of its product and also because its arrival will ‘throw it to the ground’ even more market prices, as has been happening with watermelons or melons, for example.
With 11.8% of the total production of chicken meat, Spain is the second European producer of chicken meat, only behind the United Kingdom. The productive evolution in our country tends to stabilize around one million tons, with a slight supply deficit that is covered, fundamentally, with imports from the countries of the community environment.
Most of the chicken meat production is concentrated in four autonomous communities: Catalonia, with 28.7% of the national total, the Valencian Community, with 16.9% of the total, Andalusia, with 15.8%, and Galicia, with 13.1%. Turkey production, second in economic importance in our country, is estimated at around 116,000 tons. At the global level, the main producer is the USA, although the world market is dominated by Brazil, which allocates the largest amount of product for export, while the EU ranks fourth in world production with 12.4% of the total.
The total number of poultry farms in Spain has been increasing significantly in recent years. Last year they amounted to a total of 20,754 farms (5.71%). This increase is due to the increase in farms of other species other than chicken, which maintain a continuous upward trend. On the other hand, this year chicken farms have fallen slightly (-0.66%), although mainly due to a fall in breeding farms, since production did increase slightly this year.
The person in charge of the sector in COAG, Eloy Ureña, regrets that this authorization to Morocco coincides with the “critical situation” that Spanish poultry farmers are going through due to the “brutal increase” in production costs derived from the increase in production costs. energy (150%), feed (35%) “and prices at the threshold of profitability”.
This situation may be aggravated by this increase in imports from third countries which, according to Ureña “do not comply with the demanding regulations and high standards in terms of biosafety, quality and animal welfare in the EU” and adds that at “the moment they are not necessary because the effort and responsibility of the farmers guarantees the supply of chicken for the coming months”.
With all this context, from COAG the EU and the Spanish government are asked for “less imports from third countries and more support for local poultry farms” while recalling that “10 million were allocated for 5,000 meat poultry farms, leaving out other sectors such as laying hens, turkey and quail, totally insufficient aid”, emphasized Ureña.
Faced with a “limit” situation, this agricultural official has demanded “a package of powerful and effective support measures” before “the entire sector goes into technical bankruptcy.”
For its part, UPA has urged the Government and the autonomous communities “to act” to ensure that the food chain law is complied with so that the production costs of farmers can be covered, which, according to what it points out, “exceed more than the prices received”.
UPA has assured that, if prices are not raised for farmers, it will organize protests before the main integrators and before the employer that brings them together, Avianza, “to denounce the abuses” that are being committed. “Farmers barely receive 0.15 euros of the 3.25 that consumers pay for a kilo of chicken”, assures this agrarian organization.
The organization has detailed that less than 5% of the price that a consumer pays for a kilo of chicken reaches the farmers, which represents a “ridiculous and totally insufficient” percentage. “This low price perceived by farmers sinks their profitability and makes it difficult for them to survive, to the point of jeopardizing the supply of chicken next fall,” he stressed.
In contrast, the organization has pointed out that “consumer prices have not stopped rising in the last six months, without this rise being passed on to farmers” and has denounced the “selfish” attitude of the integrators, indicating that “just a dozen companies that control almost all of the chicken production”. “The situation is unsustainable. Every day it is more difficult to pay the debts. If things do not change, it will be very difficult to survive,” they have warned from UPA.
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