June 10, 2023

Taylor Daily Press

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Emergency support for farmers and a ban on working in extreme temperatures

On Thursday, Social Democratic Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez called for an additional cabinet to approve the measures. “Spain is a country used to dry spells. Because of the effects of climate change that we are seeing now, they are now more common,” Climate Minister Teresa Ribera said in a press conference afterwards. “These types of weather events are becoming more frequent and intense. We have to prepare for that.”

In total, the government allocates 2.2 billion euros to it Package “Help Spain during the summer”. Of this amount, 630 million euros have been allocated for direct financial assistance to farmers. Their crops are collectively threatening to fail due to summer temperatures and a lack of rain – and last month was the country’s hottest and driest April since the census began. Large losses also threaten livestock farming: sheep and cattle have no fresh herbs to eat, and for Iberian pigs there are even fewer of the nuts that give their meat its famous flavour.

With emergency aid, the government hopes to ensure that farmers can continue to grow crops despite the risks. If they don’t and stock up on their money, this year’s crop threatens to be even lower. This will cause the prices of fruits and vegetables in the supermarket to rise even more.

A dry irrigation canal in Aznalcaraz, southern Spain.AFP photo

Death from sunstroke

However, the largest part, €1.4 billion, goes to increasing water availability. The government wants to spend this money on building more desalination plants that turn sea water into fresh water. In addition, twice as much water should be reused by 2027 through better water filtration. This is urgently needed: due to the drought, the country’s reservoirs are already less than half full.

To prevent life-threatening situations, new rules for working in extremely hot conditions will be introduced. Employers are required to establish a protocol for actions they take in the event of a heat alarm, such as prohibiting outdoor work. If things go wrong, they can be held responsible. In the summer of last year, a 60-year-old employee of the municipal cleaning service in Madrid died of heatstroke. His body temperature was 41.6 degrees.

Not everyone is enthusiastic about the business plan. Opposition parties say this is too late and does not go far enough. “Pedro Sánchez suddenly remembers that there is a drought, after five years without action,” said Alberto Núñez Viejo, leader of the conservative Popular Party (People’s Party), Sanchez’s main rival. By introducing an extra cabinet of ministers with great fanfare, the prime minister will be mostly for electoral gain: On May 28, Spain will go to the polls for local and regional elections.

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