Collserola’s farmers evaluate the first edition of the Agricultural Contract
The new line of subsidies, compensating farmers for the social and environmental benefits they generate, has been rated positively by the sector and has shown the potential of direct support for agricultural activity.
Agricultural activity in Collserola is about much more than producing food. Farmers are the guardians of biodiversity in this area, so the Collserola Agricultural Contract (CAC) was created to support them in that capacity and reward them for all the social and environmental benefits they create. The contract is intended to reward farmers for their contributions to the park and the surrounding municipalities by subsidising various activities which have a positive effect on the local area and on an ecological, economic and social level.
The first edition of this new line of subsidies was in 2022, and to gather experiences of it as part of the Alimentem Collserola project, the Collserola Mountain Range Nature Park Consortium has compiled an evaluation report to bring together the reflections of the farmers who took part and those of the team of specialists tasked with executing the project.
The overall amount of funding for the first edition of the CAC was €75,000, and in the end, €61,505,26 was used from this budgetary item. Specifically, an average sum of €3,844,08 was used for each of the 16 production projects selected, helping to fund activities that farmers carry out regularly; maintenance tasks for boundaries and walls, cultivation of native varieties and races, repairs to paths, etc. Also worth noting is the budgetary item for the installation of hunting fences to curb damage caused by wild boars, and also in this first edition, participation in an organisation of producers, probably as this coincides with an initial stage of the farmers’ association, Collserola Pagesa.
Strong points of the CAC
The first edition of the CAC provided a turning point in the promotion of agricultural activity in Collserola, particularly in giving support to farmers through specific resources and moving forward in the agro-ecological transition of the Nature Park.
Farmers generally rated this new tool positively. A notable feature of the CAC’s main strengths is that with a reduced budget compared to other similar lines of subsidies, it generates a particularly significant impact on the local area.
Most of all it represents a saving compared to public procurement for woodland management and local conservation, plus it values work carried out regularly by farmers which is not very visible.
Ultimately, the CAC uses financial compensation to add value to ecosystem services that are not reflected in the price of the foods produced, but which generate very important contributions to the area.
Lessons learned for future editions
The report also includes demands for the CAC to become a more general financial support tool for farmers, including investment in properties and estates to improve their productive vocation and the feasibility of professional projects.
The overall budget is also regarded as limited. It is therefore to increase the reference prices for some of the activities involved, matching real costs and equalling some tasks considered as strategic for the park with others which have a higher subsidy value.
Finally, the report also concludes that there is a need to expand the number of tasks linked to apiculture, livestock farming and cereals.
CAC 2023 in progress
The second CAC subsidy call concluded in June and will help fund work carried out in 2023. The overall budget for this edition is €75,000, with each applicant able to receive up to a maximum of €5,000.
This year’s edition includes some new aspects, such as payments for three categories of work: firstly, ecosystem services, secondly, social and labour impact, and finally, improvements to agricultural infrastructures. The call also includes new work which generates a positive social and environmental impact for the natural environment and for people, favouring the feasibility of properties in the mountain range.