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Spanish regulations on earthworks, selling meats, dairy  RSS feed

 
Christopher Burke
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Hi, I'm contemplating buying land in Spain (will be traveling there in a few weeks) and am eager to learn how regulations there differ from the U.S.

While it varies from county to county, here in the U.S. you generally need to install very expensive equipment in order to legally sell dairy products. raw milk cannot be sold legally in most places. It's common for local authorities to shut down or fine those who do not follow the rules. There are ways around it, for example by selling a monthly 'cow share' instead of selling milk directly, but I'm not sure if that protects you completely.

Similarly, if you want to sell meat products here you need to have a government approved butchering facility on your farm, or you need to ship the animals to a government certified butcher who puts a stamp on it and then ships it back to you so you can sell it.

As far as earthworks, the local government can prohibit changes that would interfere with water drainage, some states do not allow you to collect rainwater. I've been on farms that were fined by the EPA for inviting people to drop off their woody material, they said it was 'public dumping' and could be hazardous.

Are there similar laws in Spain regarding food or earthworks? Do the local authorities enforce those laws? A lot of these things are not a problem if you are simply selling or trading with friends, family, or neighbors, but how about in a farmer's market setting, or with a CSA?
 
David Vidal
Posts: 19
Location: Catalonia (Europe), Zone 9
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Yes, in Spain there are very strict sanitary laws regarding dairy milk or any other farm produce, and the requirements are probably just as tight as those in the US. About any earthworks, buildings and the like, before you start doing anything on your plot of land you must have a project signed and endorsed by an Architect/Engineer, and any waterworks scheme or whatever you do must be in the project and must fit into the municipal urbanist plan. Otherwise, you'll never get the permits to build anything. If you decide to present a passable project and later make unauthorized changes, there are very high chances your neighbors are going to report the authorities and apart from receiving a fine, you'll need to undo what you did.

Spain is divided in autonomous communities, who in some areas have exclusive competences, so some things may vary from region to region. So in addition to nation-wide and municipal laws, you must accomplish the regional ones, who may be stricter. A common saying here in Spain is that "we pay Swedish taxes and receive African services", and even if the African part it's an exaggeration, the Swedish part regarding taxes and regulations is not.

I'm Spanish, and I wouldn't buy land in Spain. As far as I could compare, land in a decent location (not in a heavily-depressed area, I mean) it's pretty expensive, at least compared to land in the US. I think with a bit of effort and savings I could definitely buy some decent piece of land in the US; in Spain, I should win the lottery to get one. Sorry to be that harsh, I'd hope I was wrong. Anyway, welcome here, have a good time!
 
Bauluo Ye
Posts: 42
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Dear Christopher Burke,

Although most of Europe is probably as much of a "farmageddon" as the U.S. are, I still consider Spain a land of opportunity. It of course depends on your ambitions. I know very little about regulations regarding dairy products and meat but It's likely the EU is even more strict than the U.S. in this regard. There's a lot you can find online about EU regulations (English) and I'm pretty sure it's not going to make you smile. I'm planning to buy a plot of land in Spain and I need to get clear what is and what isn't allowed before signing anything. I'll be visiting Spain February 8-15 with 3 friends and we hope to get more answers than.

I'm from The Netherlands and I'm dying to put permaculture into practice. Unless insane regulations turn out to spoil the fun, it's very likely my friends and I are going to end up in Spain. Our plan is roughly to build soil, gradually live off the land as much as possible and, over time, merge it into a modest business. All financially solid. Interested to team up? Let me know!
And David, chances are we're going to be very close to Catalonia In fact, the looming independence stopped me from considering to buy land there. The possibility of finding myself outside of the EU one day, isn't something I can integrate into my plans.

Good luck guys! Please keep in touch.
 
David Vidal
Posts: 19
Location: Catalonia (Europe), Zone 9
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Hi Bauluo, welcome here then, we are in need of initiatives like that here to start turning the tide to a more sustainable living!

Well, the EU has been constructed from pure ad hoc cases throughout its short history, so regardless of the international status Catalonia finally reaches, nobody at any side pro or anti seriously believes that an already European region with the highest economic productivity and output in the Iberian peninsula can be kicked out of the EU. On the other hand, I think the most serious "risk" of an EU unraveling is not because of a single region but of the whole of Southern European countries, and one can easily notice this feeling starting to catch into the population whether Catalan or Spanish. Greece is a great advanced example to follow closely for that process.

If/when that happens, it will certainly affect all the countries in the region, and then I would rather live in a place like Catalonia, for its Mediterranean geography, Euro-North/South mingled culture, industrial back-up economy and proximity to the Central-Western European Pyrenean-Alpine hub. Currencies and political alliances come and go through history, but the land (and ecologists/permaculturists know best) stay. Just my two cents, though.
 
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