Opinion: Catalan farmers are embroiled in this dangerous political stand-off
When Catalan farmers drove a tractorcade into Barcelona last month they were not protesting against falling farm incomes, or increasing pressure on government over some burning issue like the glyphosate ban.
They were backing the holding of that ill-starred independence referendum which kicked off a huge chain reaction of conflict. By now this one is as big an EU headache as Brexit, and like Brexit, it will absorb a lot of energy merely to minimise harm.
Like much of the developed world, Catalan farmers are not a numerous grouping. Of the 7.5m people there are just 59,000 farms and numbers directly working in Catalan agriculture are put at just 45,000 people.
But against that, like many other parts of Europe in particular, farmers punch way above their weight politically. Farmland occupies one third of Catalonia's landmass and agriculture produce makes up one seventh of its overall exports.
And just like most every place else, there is a harking back among many urbanites to their family's rural origins, which helps keep farming and rural life notionally special. That's a sentiment pithily summed up by the writer Brendan Behan's adage: "A 'culchie' is a Dubliner's father."
But Catalan farmers are as deeply caught up in the latest farrago as any other group. It is likely that they are proportionately affected by the dramatic swing in national sentiment about Catalan independence which has occurred in the past decade.
In 2006 little more than one in eight people backed independence - now it is almost one in three. A third of people could have lived with Catalonia as a Spanish province - now that is just one in five. Four out of 10 people thought more autonomy was the solution but now that is down to one in three.
That, however, is another way of saying that Catalonia is now deeply divided on the issue. Last Sunday some 300,000 people marched in Barcelona - this time for Catalonia to remain with Spain. In fact, the split is now deemed to be close to 50:50, a very dangerous divisive line-up.