Shearers from all over the world, especially from countries like Argentina, Uruguay, or Ukraine, come to Spain to carry out the shearing tasks necessary for the commercialization of wool from the thousands of head of cattle in the country. Their presence is necessary because there are practically no Spanish shearers anymore. Photojournalist Nacho Izquierdo has photographed seven Ukrainian shearers who arrived in Guadalajara a few months ago to shear thousands of sheep in a very short period of time.
“They are a crew of seven tough men used to piecework. They have traveled more than three thousand kilometers in a van to get to Spain to do a job that fewer and fewer Spaniards want to do, shearing sheep. This time they have almost peeled two thousand sheep in Guadalajara and their next destination is Ciudad Real, “explains the photojournalist. Everyone has other jobs in winter, explains Taras, the only one who speaks Spanish and who has been coming to work in these lands for 20 years.
“It seems like an easy operation but it requires technique and precision so as not to harm the animal, at the same time they have to go as quickly as possible to be able to return home to their families soon, whom they have not seen for two months,” says Izquierdo. .
More and more difficult to find professionals
“Finding Spanish professionals is increasingly difficult, due to the situation of the livestock activity itself, which is very sacrificed,” explains the general secretary of ASAJA in Ciudad Real, Florencio Rodríguez. Rodríguez explains that the ranchers must first get “the minimum” to be able to subsist, maintain themselves and also maintain their heads of cattle, with pasture or feed. The lack of natural food has forced them to depend on feed, the price of which has risen, and has also made production costs more expensive.
“There is practically no one who wants to carry out the activity”
“The profitability is then lower. But this situation is not current, it has been dragging on for a long time and the cattle farms are getting bigger, because the small ones are not profitable. Labor is a problem, because there are no people who wants to be in the activity “. Rodríguez points out that people from South America or Eastern Europe are essential for the sector, because in Spain “there is practically no one who wants to carry out the activity.”
“It is thanks to them that these activities can continue to be maintained and work is maintained in the different agricultural and livestock farms. Of course, it is always positive, because it is done in an orderly and controlled manner. We understand that this staff is needed for the agricultural work “, reflects Rodríguez. And it is positive for the sector, he stresses, because it is a “support” that cannot be reached in any other way. “There is a lack of profitability and support from political leaders,” says the head of the agrarian organization.
However, Rodríguez warns that the situation in the field and in the sector is getting more and more complicated. “The mechanization of the countryside appears, at forced marches and there is a restructuring of crops and other sectors. There is a lack of labor and in the future the situation is increasingly difficult,” he emphasizes.
“There is no demand”
Pedro is one of the businessmen from Ciudad Real who seeks the support of shearers outside of Spain. “We make offers in employment offices throughout the country but they do not come out, there is no demand,” he emphasizes. And, he explains, they are campaigns of a very short duration, at most three months. “The people of Spain do not want to learn, because it is two or three months, and the rest of the year they cannot live. So we always bring from Uruguay, Poland or Argentina, which are people who dedicate themselves to this all year long,” he points out. . “A Spaniard would have to do the same: the campaign here and then go to other countries. But the Spaniards do not want to,” he emphasizes.
Pedro has been in the sector for 25 years and explains that this situation “has always been and always will be”. The problem, agrees with ASAJA, is that prices are no longer competitive, mainly because the laws have made the situation more expensive. “We cannot raise the price of the product, but the product is becoming more and more expensive,” he concludes.