This boycott campaign targets strawberries grown in the province of Huelva in Andalusia, the leading export region of red fruits in Europe.
A campaign to boycott Spanish strawberries, launched in Germany in the name of environmental protection, provoked the fury of farmers and the Spanish right, prompting a German parliamentary delegation, visiting Spain, to suspend its work on Monday. It is “a harsh and unjustified attack on the agricultural sector of our country“, denounced in a press release the agricultural union Asaja, deploring a “aggression against thousands of producers and their families who work hard all year round to support their farms“.
This campaign targeting strawberries grown in the province of Huelva, Andalusia, in the south of the country, the leading export region of red fruits in Europe, “harms the whole” of the sector, estimated for its part the interprofessional association of the Spanish strawberry, Interfresa. At the heart of this controversy: a call for a boycott launched by the German citizens’ organization Campact, signed by more than 162,000 people and calling on the main German supermarkets, such as Lidl and Edeka, to remove strawberries produced in this province from their stalls.
The NGO thus intends to denounce a bill from the Andalusian regional government, in the hands of the Popular Party (PP, right), aimed at regularizing illegal exploitations of red fruits located near the Doñana natural park, a place of refuge for millions of migratory birds. According to environmental associations, this initiative could lead to the legalization of 1,500 hectares of crops, most of which are irrigated by clandestine wells. Enough to jeopardize the future of this emblematic reserve classified by Unesco, today threatened by desertification. “If the Andalusian regional government has its way, there will be even more water used for growing strawberries“, which will return to “destroy this fragile ecosystem“, emphasizes Campact, which calls on German consumers to no longer buy “drought strawberries“.
This campaign was denounced last week by the PP, which says it wants to repair an injustice caused by a previous law of 2014 which made it possible to regularize 9,000 hectares of illegal crops… but leaving aside several hundred farmers. The Huelva strawberry is a victim “unjust attacks“, motivated by “ideological questions“, had lamented Carmen Crespo, responsible for agricultural issues in the Andalusian regional government, accusing the Spanish central government, led by the left, of supporting Campact.
On Monday, this controversy escalated a notch around the visit of a delegation of nine German parliamentarians of all political persuasions on the consequences of the drought and the “illegal water takingin the Doñana region. This “visit of German MPs” Who “trying to control the production of our farmers (…) is absolutely unacceptable. This is interference no decent government should tolerate.“, annoyed Santiago Abascal, leader of the far-right Vox party, support for the PP initiative in Andalusia.
A speech relayed by the Asaja union, which accused the socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez of supporting this “smear campaignfor political ends, in a context ofshowdownexacerbated by the campaign for the early legislative elections on July 23.
Opposed to the regularization of illegal farms, Pedro Sánchez continues to accuse the PP and Vox of “Holocaust denialclimate change and warned the Andalusian authorities against possible European sanctions. In this explosive context, the delegation of German deputies announced late Monday morning the suspension of its visit, which was to end on Friday, “given the political importance“taken by this displacement”in the context of the next legislative elections“. “This trip was to be used for a technical exchange” In “the interest of our two countries“, however regretted the delegation in a press release, hoping “continue this exchange in the future“.
According to Interfresa, the province of Huelva produces 300,000 tons of strawberries per year, more than 90% of Spanish production, and generates nearly 100,000 direct jobs. Germany is its biggest export market, with an estimated annual turnover of 186 million euros. At the start of 2022, around twenty European supermarket chains, including Lidl, Aldi and Sainsbury’s, had already called on the Andalusian government to abandon its project.