Home News Farmers’ Confederation says 2017 drought aid “has not yet come”

Farmers’ Confederation says 2017 drought aid “has not yet come”

Published on 09/01/2018

Portugal’s government yet again has been caught out for issuing worthy sound-bites to solve urgent social problems and then doing precisely nothing, or as little as possible, with aid ‘on the way’ or delayed due to a variety of increasingly implausible excuses.

The money for the victims of this summer’s fires have been left waiting for cash while their homes lie in charred ruins, with livestock dead and farming equipment unusable.

The latest instance of the government promising immediate help for those left broke and desperate, and then doing nothing, are those of the nation’s farmers affected by the long and serious drought that left them with no water to hydrate their animals or water their crops.

The Portuguese Farmers’ Confederation said today that the government’s promised and long-awaited drought aid “has not yet arrived,” revealing that of the €15 million announced in a slew of positive press releases and well received interviews, only €20,000 has been paid out.

“Those who have felt and are still feeling the effects of the dramatic drought that Portugal is experiencing are the livestock producers,” the Confederation’s president, Eduardo de Oliveira e Sousa said today, adding that the farmers “asked for help at the beginning of spring last year, help that has not yet arrived.”

According to the farmers’ representative, “the actual support paid to date is about €20,000 – a few thousand euros out of €15 million that was to be made available to farmers.”

“Something has gone wrong and this has to be analysed, it has to be discovered why it has not yet been possible for farmers to receive these funds and why they are taking so long in an emergency situation,” said the Confederation president.

In July 2017, the Minister of Agriculture, Capoulas Santos, signed a document to confirm that the drought conditions are official, which enabled farmers to apply for financial help.

Crops that should have been harvested last summer were fed to livestock with Capoulas Santos reporting that the 2016/2017 hydrological year was characterised by “a deficit of precipitation, with average and maximum temperatures far above normal.”

The minister rightly predicted that forage crops and pasture both would run out, and announced support measures to help farmers cope with the extra costs of production.

The fact that farmers have received a fraction of the aid that they have applied for, makes the ministry look both mean and inefficient at the same time.

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