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Farmers join opposition parties to protest about Spain’s rural policies

The protest was organised by Alma Rural 2021, a platform representing more than 500 rural groups from all corners of Spain.

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People take part in a protest march along the Castellana Boulevard in Madrid, Spain, defending Spanish rural areas (Paul White/AP)

People take part in a protest march along the Castellana Boulevard in Madrid, Spain, defending Spanish rural areas (Paul White/AP)

People take part in a protest march along the Castellana Boulevard in Madrid, Spain, defending Spanish rural areas (Paul White/AP)

Farmers, cattle-breeders and hunting enthusiasts have descended on Madrid to protest about environmental and economic policies by Spain’s left-of-centre government.

The protest was organised by Alma Rural 2021, a platform representing more than 500 rural groups from all corners of Spain. Members of centre-to-far-right opposition parties attended.

The demonstration comes as Spanish politicians are campaigning before a snap election in Castilla-Leon, a vast region northeast of Madrid where proposals against depopulation and agricultural policies are taking centre stage.

Carlos Bueno, head of Alma Rural 2021, said that the aim of the protest was to bring attention to the situation of the rural world amid “ideological” attacks from the government.

Demands from participants ranged from regulation of prices for agricultural products to protection of breeders of cattle for bullfights and more subsidies for rural industries, among many others.

Tractors and bull carts headed the march along a Madrid thoroughfare. Among the many banners held by protesters, one read: “Farmers speak. Who’s listening?”

In a statement, Spain’s Ecological Transition Ministry said that the country’s budget for 2022 includes 4.2 billion euros (£3.52 billion) to fight the depopulation of rural areas. Spain’s rural world “doesn’t need populist slogans but political involvement and resource to solve historical problems”, it said.

A spat over industrial livestock farming has dominated headlines for the past month since Consumer Minister Alberto Garzon, a member of the far-left junior partner of the Socialist-led administration, criticised big cattle exploitations for damaging the environment and producing poor quality food for export.

His remarks caused a political storm, created divisions within the coalition and led to calls by the right-wing opposition parties for Garzon to resign.

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