Factory farming dispute plagues Spain’s coalition government

Disputes over factory farming are fueling tensions in Spain’s center-left coalition government

MADRID – The dispute over factory farming is fueling tensions in Spain’s centre-left coalition government, with the agriculture minister on Tuesday calling the consumer minister’s criticism of the country’s livestock sector “very unfortunate”.

Consumer minister Alberto Garzón told The Guardian last month that intensive cattle farming was “unsustainable”, damaging the environment and producing poor quality products.

“They found a village in a sparsely populated part of Spain with 4,000, 5,000 or 10,000 cattle,” Garzón is quoted as saying. “They polluted the soil, they polluted the water, and then they exported this poor quality meat from these abused animals.”

Garzon’s remarks sparked a storm, with livestock representatives and opposition representatives calling for his resignation.

Agriculture Minister Luis Planas said on Tuesday he regretted the controversy over the important national industry. Spain is the EU’s fourth-largest exporter of livestock and meat, he said.

Government ministers usually consult with each other before taking positions on overlapping national issues, he told Radio Onda Cero, adding that Garzón had not approached him before the newspaper interview.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez also supports the livestock sector, while Second Deputy Prime Minister Yolanda Díaz – a senior member of the United We Can Alliance – urged her colleagues to weigh them carefully words and “take care” of the alliance.