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Spanish government approves €2 billion funding package to fight drought effects

Conor Faulkner
Conor Faulkner - [email protected]
Spanish government approves €2 billion funding package to fight drought effects
The low water-level and the dried banks of the reservoir of Sau, located in the province of Girona in Catalonia. Photo: Josep LAGO/AFP.

The Spanish government has passed a wide-ranging package of funding measures intended to help alleviate the effects of drought on agricultural and water sectors.

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Spain's Congress on Wednesday, June 7th, approved a package of funding measures totalling €2.19 billion intended to help alleviate the effects of drought. 

Though recent periods of rain have helped somewhat, prolonged drought conditions have pushed Spain's water reserves below 50 percent capacity in many parts of the country, while levels have fallen to roughly 25 percent in the two worst-affected areas - Catalonia in the northeast and the southern region of Andalusia.

READ ALSO: Storms lash drought-hit Spain

The funding package passed with 58 votes in favour, including the support of opposition party PP, no votes against and 11 abstentions, all Vox deputies. Despite that, during the pre-vote debate, both PP and Vox criticised the legislation as electioneering. Spain heads to the polls on July 23rd.

Spanish Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Luis Planas, spoke on behalf of the government in Congress and described the funds as "very important" for "the entire agricultural and livestock sector" and "the security of food supply and the continuity of productive activity."

Planas explained that the package contains €636 million in direct aid to farmers and ranchers, which will be bolstered by tax, financial, labour, hydraulic fields and Common Agricultural Policy measures worth €784 million.

Among other funds, the bill includes subsidies of up to 70 percent of the cost of insurance policies for crops damaged due to the drought conditions, as well as allocating €355 million for beef, sheep and goat meat farmers, milk producers and another €5 million for the beekeeping sector.

Funds have also been included to reduce the pressure on the aquifers that feed the Doñana National Park and for the construction of new infrastructure, notably desalination plants, to double the reuse of urban water, as well as reduce the fees and rates of the affected farms in the area.

READ ALSO: Strawberry boycott leaves Spain's farmers in a jam

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The package also goes beyond agricultural and environmental subsidies and includes other measures, namely transport discounts. It includes discounts for young people between 18 and 30 years old on bus, train and Interrail trips during this summer. For Interrail tickets, Renfe will apply a 50 percent discount on the 10-day flexible global Interrail passes.

READ ALSO: UPDATE: What you need to know about Spain's half-price Interrail train passes

90 percent discounts will also be applied on the price of single and round-trip tickets on Media Distancia passenger rail transport services, and 50 percent on single and round-trip tickets for Avant services.

In addition, there will be a 90 percent discount on state-run bus services applied to the price of single and round-trip tickets between June 15th and September 15th, 2023.

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