Spain urged to adopt 10 measures to guarantee access to healthy, sustainable food

By Katy Askew

- Last updated on GMT

Spanish civil society wants more say over food policy / GettyImages-Eclips_Images
Spanish civil society wants more say over food policy / GettyImages-Eclips_Images

Related tags Sustainability

Twenty Spanish organisations, including health and environmental campaigners as well as consumer representatives, are urging the Spanish government to take action to combat the ‘current food price crisis’ and ensure access to sustainable and affordable nutrition for all.

In a joint letter, the organisations offered their support to develop food policies covering a range of topics, from working conditions for agricultural labourers to the fight against the depopulation or rural areas.

Given the ‘current food price crisis’, they insisted political measures must be approved to ‘guarantee access to healthy food’ as well as the ‘sustainability of the entire agri-food model’ in the medium and long term.

With this in mind, the coalition has urged the government to take ten steps they say will promote a ‘fairer agrifood system’. The want to see civil society to be ‘taken more into account’ than the priorities of the agri-food industry when policies are developed.

Short term measures ‘are not enough’

The organisations stressed that Spanish people are struggling under the cost of living crisis that has swept Europe, noting that this has impacted access to food ‘for the most vulnerable’. They reject the short-term measures that the Spanish authorities have introduced, such as a reduction in value added tax, insisting they are ‘not enough to solve the problem’. Policies need to balance the interests of Spanish consumers and small-scale producers, they continued.

“While the price of the shopping basket continues to rise, production costs also increasingly stifle family agroecological production. We can affirm that there is a fragile balance between the provision of resources and food for our consumption, the protection of the land and that the people who inhabit and work have decent living conditions.”

Spanish consumer federation CECU elaborated: "We value the most urgent actions. However, in the medium term we need to implement measures that guarantee both the rights of producers and the access of consumers to healthy and sustainable food."

The ‘decalogue of measures’ that the organizations have presented to the government is the result of the joint work of nearly 100 people linked to the rural world, food production and consumption, food sovereignty and health. The collection of different interest groups met at the end of the year in Jaca (Huesca) to discuss common initiatives.

In the words of Andoni García, from farming organisation COAG, this was a space to ‘talk about the future, agriculture, livestock, the rural environment… and the right to healthy food for the entire population’.

Organizations linked to public health, such as the Spanish Society of Public Health and Health Administration, were also signatories of the open letter. According to the association’s representative Pilar Serrano, when talking about the production and consumption of food, it is necessary to ‘to show how axes of inequality converge between rural areas, women's health and immigration, and it makes sense to work from public health with these relationships’.

Ten policy measures for ‘fair and sustainable’ agri-food

The civil society coalition called on the Spanish authorities to:

  1. Guarantee the right to food for the entire population, especially vulnerable groups.
  2. Support a food system that guarantees fair prices for producers, consumers and workers.
  3. Ensure a food production model that respects labour and social rights.
  4. Develop food production model based on agroecology.
  5. Bet on family and sustainable livestock models and reject industrial livestock.
  6. Promote of agroecological food institutions through public purchasing.
  7. Defend rural territory against the expansion of industrial farms, mining, solar and wind projects.
  8. Nurture inclusive social, production and consumption environments with a feminist perspective.
  9. Defend public services in rural areas.
  10. Promote sustainable food environments.

“The signatory organizations hope that these demands are taken into account by public administrations and demand that they be taken into account in the planning and development of strategies related to food and protection of the rural world.”

The civil society coalition has requested meetings with the Ministry of Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Ministry of Consumption.

Friends of the Earth commented: "We ask the Government to put at the centre the urgent need to transform the agri-food model so that it adjusts to planetary limits and responds to the needs of people, instead of the interests of the industry and large groups corporate. The Spanish presidency of the EU is a good opportunity to advance on this path.”

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