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Agriculture and the Environment

Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries

Sunday 31 December 2017

The national agriculture and fisheries policy of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Food and Environmental Affairs, within the framework of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) of the European Union, sets the following specific priorities for agriculture, livestock farming and fisheries: to consolidate and increase safe, high-quality, market-orientated and sustainable production.


Agriculture in Spain is a strategic sector of great social, territorial, environmental and economic importance.

Agricultural output includes:

  • Fruits and vegetables: Spain is the second largest producer of fruit and vegetables in the European Union and the sixth largest worldwide, obtaining more than 80 different products at many different times of the season and with a wide range of production systems. This is also an export-heavy sector.
  • Olive oil and table olives: Spain is the largest producer and supplier of olive oil and table olives in the world. In global terms, half of all bottles of olive oil and one in every four containers of table olives consumed on the planet are of Spanish origin. Furthermore, Spain is the leading global exporter of olive oil in the world, followed by Italy, holding a leading position in the leader table of exports of agri-food products, above all, of citrus fruits, wine and pork. It presents a clearly positive trade balance.
  • Vineyards: Spain is the leading country worldwide in surface area of grape vineyards for winemaking, and the world's third leading wine producer. Wine is a product with a positive trade balance.
  • Cereals: Spain is a net importer of cereals. The variability of harvests affects the volume of imports of cereals in the season. Essentially, Spain has a deficit in soft wheat and corn. For its part, the trade balance is positive for rice.
  • Oilseeds: The sunflower represents the most extensive crop planted, fundamental in dry farming alternatives. The trade balance is clearly negative, with imports of seeds and cake, and oilseed meal.

  • Grain legumes: Characterised by their high protein content and environmental benefits of fixing atmospheric nitrogen, these legumes include dried peas and grain vetches. The trade balance is negative, the main imports including lentils, chickpeas and dried beans.

  • Ecological production: Ecological production, also known as biological or organic, is an agri-food production and management system which, together with environmental best practices, combines a high degree of biodiversity and preservation of natural resources, as well as the application of demanding standards on animal well-being, with the aim of obtaining production in line with the preferences of certain consumers of products obtained through natural substances and processes. Ecological production has been regulated in Spain since 1989. In 1993, the first EU Regulation came into force, which was replaced by the current Council Regulation 834/2007 on production and labelling of ecological products, development by Commission Regulation numbers 889/2008 and 1235/2008. The consumer can differentiate ecological products since all packaged units must be stamped with the EU logo and the numerical code of the control entity assigned to the operator responsible for the ecological product, together with its own brand name and the specific terms of the ecological product.

Livestock farming

The livestock sector focus its production on quality products pursuant to the European production model, based on high standards of food security, respect for the environment and respect for the well-being of animals, in a manner that is compatible with the sustainable use of natural resources.

The main livestock productions are:

  • Pork: Spain is the second largest European producer, behind only Germany. This is a very active sector in international trade, since total Spanish exports of pork meat represent 44% of national production.
  • Milk: With an official census of 855,288 milking cows, this amounted to 17.8% of livestock production in 2016.
  • Beef: This represented approximately 16.8% of livestock production in 2016.
  • Poultry: This represented approximately 15.5% of livestock production in 2016.
  • Sheep and goat sector: This represented 6.3% of livestock production.
  • Eggs: This represented 5.8% of production.
  • Beekeeping: Aside from its economic contribution, this sector is essential for its role in conserving the environment and in crop pollination.
  • Rabbit: This is one of the main productions within the so-called "minor sectors" of primary livestock production.

Animal Science

The evolution of different breeds in our country, the application of EU law and the growing importance of genetic animal resources - as a source of quality products and due to their contribution to maintaining the environment and traditions - has made it necessary to update the lines of action in the field of animal science through Royal Decree 2129/2008, of 26 December, establishing the National Programme to Preserve, Improve and Develop Livestock Breeds.

This Royal Decree defines the lines of the National Programme to Organise, Preserve, Improve and Develop Livestock Breeds, and regulates the different aspects of the breeding, preservation and development of our different breeds.

As an instrument for the dissemination of information relating to the breeds included in the Official List of Livestock Breeds of Spain, a web page has been set up for the public to consult all those aspects of animal science related to the different livestock species and breeds and its implementing regulations.


Forests not only produce wood, resin, cork, pasture and such nuts as pine nuts and chestnuts, but also offer services of extraordinary importance, such as the regulation of the water cycle, the provision of oxygen and a sink effect of greenhouse gases, and they contribute to preventing desertification, protect biodiversity and, in short, facilitate recreational services.

To achieve that, our forest policies are designed to protect the multifunctional role of forests. Their goals are to conserve and increase forestry heritage by effectively acting against their main enemies (pests, disease and wildfires) and to also design a new Spanish strategy for the development of the energy use of forest biomass in a comprehensive fashion without only taking into account cutting waste and silvicultural treatment.


Spain has made a great effort to adapt the size of its fishing fleet to the potential of the fishing grounds to guarantee their sustainability within the framework of the European Union.

Spain is one of the countries with the highest per capita consumption of fish to such an extent that, despite very high production, it cannot meet market demand, and it is necessary to resort to a high percentage of imports. However, in relation to the value of the fish products marketed through international trade, Spain is among the 10 leading countries in the world.

Within the framework of the Common Fisheries Policy, structural measures are aimed at guaranteeing effective balance between the capacity of the fishing fleet and real possibilities for fishing. To achieve this, a report is drafted annually to reflect the situation of the balance between all segments of the fleet. This report contains an action plan for those segments that are unbalanced and the raft of measures needed to turn the situation around.

The localisation system for Spanish fishing vessels, pursuant to national and EU legislation, allows the competent authorities to obtain the positions of all fishing vessels with a length greater than 15 metres via satellite through their so-called "blue boxes".

In parallel to traditional fishing activity, the aquaculture sector has experienced extraordinary growth in Spain, to such an extent that, thanks to the productive and technological development in recent years, this activity has become a complementary source of extractive fishing of great interest to the sustainability of fish resources.

Finally, progress continues to be made on drafting the Aquaculture Act, which will update the existing legal framework, including continental aquaculture in our legal system for the first time.

Spanish Network of Fishing Groups

The Spanish Network of Fishing Groups (Spanish acronym: REGP) was set up under an initiative from the General Secretariat of Fisheries. It falls to the Directorate-General of Fishing Organisation to manage and galvanise the network.

The REGP is a platform that facilitates cooperation and networking, giving a leading role to contributions from the groups themselves, management authorities and public and private institutions involved in consolidating a sustainable present and a viable future for fishing communities.

The REGP is made up, at present, by the autonomous regions of Andalusia, Asturias, the Canary Islands, Cantabria, Catalonia and Galicia, as well as by the Fishing Groups themselves.

The web page of the REGP contains all the information on actions and projects under way, documents, news, Fishing Groups, etc.


The agri-food industry plays a key role in Spanish economic sectors as a whole, and holds one of the leading positions in industry.

This is a key element in the food chain, since it is an intermediate link that provides added value to primary production. As the main consumer of the agricultural sector, it is continuously innovating, adapting to new technologies and new demands from consumers.

The global strategy of food policy seeks to improve the supply and quality of agri-food products. Agri-food trade exchanges have had a positive balance in our balance sheet since 2016.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Food and Environmental Affairs is working to improve the structure and functioning of the food chain with the aim of increasing the efficiency and competitiveness of the agri-food sector, and achieve greater balance in trade relations between different operators in the value chain.

Ecological agriculture has developed considerably over the last 10 years, doubling the surface area of crops while the number of operators has tripled. This has turned Spanish ecological agriculture into the leading player in the EU in terms of production - particularly of vegetables - and the fourth leading exporter worldwide.

Agri-food laboratories

There are two agri-food laboratories under the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Food and Environmental Affairs. The Madrid Food and Agriculture Arbitration Laboratory and the Santander Food and Agriculture Laboratory also act as benchmark national laboratories in various fields. Among other functions, they are tasked with collaborating with the autonomous regions in the analysis of agri-food products, through the physical-chemical, sensory and biological analyses of these products, as well as with carrying on activities geared towards the normalisation of analytical methods and making proposals on how to turn them into official methods.