The farmers have come together to demand changes in the European Union’s farming policies and measures in hopes of combatting production costs hikes and struggles with the country’s severe drought.
Many areas of the country have not seen normal levels of rain in recent months, impacting their harvests. Last week, Catalonia in the northeast of Spain declared a state of emergency due to a three-year drought, the longest on record.
“With different shades, in the whole of the EU, we have the same problems,” Donaciano Dujo, vice president of ASAJA, one of Spain’s largest farmers’ associations, told national broadcaster TVE.
ASAJA and other major farming associations in Spain had called for the protests on Thursday, but most farmers took to the roads on Tuesday.
According to Spain’s traffic data, fourteen highways in Catalonia, Andalusia, Castille-La Mancha, and Valencia were blockaded. Tractors also blockading access to the eastern port of Castellon and southeastern Jerez airport, and PBS reports that tractors were heading toward Barcelona’s city center.
In Girona, hundreds of tractors carried signs with slogans like, “Without farmers, there’s no food,” while onlookers set brush and tires on fire.
On Tuesday, the Ministry of Agriculture announced that €290 million ($312 million USD) would aid 140,000 farmers with problems caused by the Russian war and droughts.
However, farmers say that the EU rules imposed to protect the environment threaten their ability to compete with their European peers.
“We spend more time dealing with paperwork than in the field,” farmer Eva Garcia told Reuters in the northern city of Vitoria, adding that the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy was “choking us”.