The Government has approved this Thursday in the Council of Ministers a plan of 2,200 million to alleviate the effects of the drought. Of these, 784 million euros will be allocated to alleviate the effects of low rainfall in the agricultural sector and the rest, almost 1,400 million euros, to improve water management.
The Minister for Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera, stressed that the Government is aware that, even maintaining average rainfall thresholds, “we will experience more frequent episodes of drought or floods” in the coming years thanks to climate change. Ribera has highlighted that the investments made in hydrological matters have increased from 1,462 million euros in 2011 to 3,000 million in 2023, with 1,000 million euros of them linked to the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan.
At the moment, 2023 is the fifth year with less water stored in reservoirs since there are records. Regarding rainfall, the first quarter of this year was the driest in the whole of Spain since the national historical series of rainfall began in 1961, which increases the situation of long-term meteorological drought in which it is immersed. the country from the end of 2022.
Among the approved measures, Ribera has announced that the Government will support regional governments to build desalination plants in Almería, Málaga -in Andalusia- and Tordera -Catalonia- for which 420 million euros will be allocated and 224 million euros for recycling plants of water in Alicante -Valencian Community-. According to Ribera, these works will not be ready for the summer of 2023.
In the same way, the third vice president of the Government assured that the Ministry would dedicate 35.5 million euros in constructions “express” hydraulics; and it will apply exemptions from the regulation canon and the water regulation fee for 2023 in the areas affected by the drought. Specifically, the program will be endowed with 57 million euros and will reduce the fee between 50% and 100%, depending on the reduction in the amount of water for irrigators. The indirect beneficiaries of regulation works in the Guadalquivir basin, for their part, will have a 50% reduction in the canon.
The Executive has also approved the replacement of groundwater pumps by other surface water pumps in the municipalities surrounding the Doñana park. On the other hand, Ribera has announced measures worth 610 million euros in line with Acuamed to activate the Júcar-Vinalopó pipeline and replace the use of groundwater with desalination plants.
Agricultural losses continue to skyrocket due to low rainfall. In 2022, the Association of Young Farmers (Asaja) estimated the sector’s losses at 8,000 million for that year and insured Five days They hope that this year’s will be worse. Insurers also estimate record losses, Agrosegur estimates that this year is the largest claim in the history of agricultural insurance with losses in the dry herbaceous that exceed 300 million euros. For its part, the Coordinator of Organizations of Farmers and Ranchers (COAG) released a report this Thursday that assured that the drought suffocated 80% of the Spanish countryside and has produced irreversible losses in more than 5 million hectares of dryland cereals.
Thanks to this panorama, the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Luis Planas, also presented the measures aimed at the agricultural sector, which will be valued at 784 million euros and will be added to the tax reduction for the countryside, with reductions in personal income tax in the system of modules of 1,807 million euros in 2023, and the 317 million euros destined to promote agricultural insurance against drought.
Of the 784 million approved this Thursday, 684 million will be channeled as direct aid to livestock, agriculture and beekeeping. Planas explained that the Government will complement up to 70% of the financing of insurance policies that have coverage for drought worth 40.48 million euros of public money. An extension with which the support line for contracting agricultural insurance from the ministry will amount to more than 358 million euros.
Within the direct aid items, 355 million euros in aid to the livestock sector so that they can alleviate the increase in the cost of feed, the use of which increases due to the lack of rain that prevents the growth of pastures. Energy, feed and fertilizers represent almost 70% of the costs of agricultural and livestock farms, indicates the Ministry of Agriculture. The price of each and every one of these elements has increased substantially in recent times: For example, the value of feed has risen 83% since 2019, according to data from the sheep sector. Although their trend has been downward in recent months, the price is still much higher than the average of previous years.
In the same way, Planas announced an aid fund of 276 million that remains at the disposal of the Ministry of Agriculture to assist pending agricultural campaigns and that may be damaged by the lack of rain.
On the fiscal side, Agriculture will return 53 million euros in 2023 to more than 200,000 farms from the Property and Real Estate Tax (IBI). The exemption will be possible for those farms with a reduction in the net yield of agricultural activities of at least 20% in areas with natural limitations, according to European Union regulations, or 30% in others.
On the other hand, the Executive will postpone the payment of social contributions to 0.5%. According to the Government, it will be “eight times less than that established this year” and will be applied for five months -from May to September- to more than 730,000 workers. An extension will also be established until December 31, 2023 in the reduction of laborers to access the agricultural unemployment benefit, to be able to collect it with only 10 laborers.
The first vice president of the Government, Nadia Calviño, has assured this Thursday that, in parallel, the Government will also offer aid worth 22,000 million euros for the improvement of irrigation and in the digitization of the water cycle. In this way, she Calviño assured that the Government hopes to “continue advancing in structural solutions that allow us to make better use of water resources and adaptation to climate change.”
work in heat waves
The new Government Royal Decree Law will also include the measure advanced this Wednesday by the Second Vice President of the Government, Yolanda Díaz, regarding the limitation of outdoor work when there are orange and red alerts due to high temperatures. The Government specifies that in the event that these alerts are issued by the AEMET “it will be mandatory to adapt the working conditions, including the reduction or modification of the hours of development of the scheduled shift”.
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