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Agriculture and the Environment

Sunday 31 December 2017

Agriculture, livestock and fisheries


Within the framework of the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), Spanish agricultural policy focuses on consolidating and increasing secure, high-quality, sustainable and market-orientated production.

The main agricultural productions are:

  • Fruit and vegetables: Spain is the second largest producer of fruit and vegetables in the European Union and the sixth largest worldwide.
  • Olive oil and table olives: Spain is the leading producer and supplier of olive oil and table olives in the world.
  • Vineyards: Spain is the leading country worldwide in surface area of grape vineyards for winemaking, and the world's third leading wine producer.
  • Cereals: Spain is a net importer of cereals.
  • Oilseeds: The sunflower represents the most extensive crop, fundamental in dry farming alternatives.


The livestock sector is geared towards high quality production and follows the European model, which is based on respecting the environment, the well-being of animals and compliance with high standards of food security.

The main livestock productions are:

  • Pork: Spain is the second largest European producer, behind only Germany.
  • Milk: In 2016, this amounted to 2% of the industrial production of the whole country, representing 8.5% of jobs as a whole in the agri-food sector.
  • Beef: This represented approximately 16.7% 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.


Spain is one of the countries posting the highest per capita fish consumption to such an extent that our production, whilst very high, cannot meet the market demand, and hence it is necessary to resort to a high percentage of imports.

Within the framework of the Common Fisheries Policy, structural measures are aimed at guaranteeing the right balance between fishing fleet capacity and real fishing options.

In parallel to traditional fishing activity, the aquaculture sector has experienced extraordinary growth in Spain, in which the degree of productive and technological development in recent years places this activity as a complementary source of extractive fishing of great interest to the sustainability of fish resources. Furthermore, progress continues to be made on drafting the Aquaculture Act, which will update the existing legal framework, and include continental aquaculture in our legal system for the first time.


The environment represents a complex system of great significance for human well-being and our future. Its balance and conservation face a whole host of challenges, to which the policies implemented by the Government of Spain within the framework of the country's membership of the European Union are aimed. The following are the main aspects:

Environmental quality and its assessment: Environmental assessment is the set of studies which, designed within an administrative procedure, seeks to identify, forecast and assess the environmental impact that a plan, programme or project would have in the event of its implementation.

Protection of the atmosphere and emissions control: The government is working on drafting the National Air Quality and Atmospheric Protection Plan (AIRE Plan) 2017-2019, which will offer continuity to the previous plan (2013-2016), with the aim of reducing the emission of the main atmospheric pollutants, such as carbon dioxide, particulates and tropospheric ozone precursors.

Climate change: Within the scope of the European Union, the European Council adopted the 2030 Climate and Energy Policy Framework in 2014 with three binding objectives: a) a 40% reduction in CO2 emissions at a national level; b) to reach 27% of renewable energies in energy consumption; and c) to achieve a 27% improvement in energy efficiency.

Water: The government's primary goal on this matter is to guarantee a sufficient quantity and quality of water supply throughout the country for all uses.

Protected areas: Within the framework of the Natural Heritage and Bio-diversity Act 42/2007, of 13 December, protection of the natural environment is carried out through various instruments, such as the different figures of Protected Natural Areas and, at a European level, the Natura 2000 European Ecological Network.

Coasts and marine environment: The management of the State Maritime and Terrestrial Public Domain (Spanish acronym: DPMT) is aimed at defending the integrity of the coastal environment and its balance and physical development by protecting and preserving its values, guaranteeing its public use and enjoyment by all, and making rational use of its resources.

Rural development: It was agreed at the Agriculture and Rural Development Sector Conference held on 24 and 25 July 2013 that the structure of the programme in Spain would have a national programme - a national framework - to establish those elements common to all rural development programmes and the 17 regional rural development programmes.