"Simpler rules, more support" for fruit and veg producer organisations, says European Commission

Fruit and vegetable producer organisations (POs) will benefit from "simpler rules, a reduced administrative burden and greater financial support in times of crisis" under new legislation in force from tomorrow (1 June), the EC has said.

Image: Thijs ter Haar (CC BY 2.0)
Image: Thijs ter Haar (CC BY 2.0)

The changes "will further strengthen the role of POs by making them more attractive to non-members, while at the same time improving the functioning of the existing market management scheme," the Commission claimed today.

This includes making clearer which items are eligible for EU funding - for example, investments in technology or quality improvement.

The new rules also set the maximum percentage of produce that can be marketed outside the PO at 25%, replacing a variety of different maximum thresholds set at national level.

Rules governing transnational producer organisations and their associations "have also been made simpler and clearer to understand in a bid to encourage more cross-border marketing of products", the Commission said.

In a further move, so-called withdrawal prices in response to unforeseen market developments will increase from 30% to 40% of the average EU market price over the last five years for free distribution ("charity withdrawals") and from 20% to 30% for withdrawals destined for other purposes such as compost, animal feed and distillation.

Since the Russian embargo on EU agri-food imports in August 2014, the EU has helped support fruit and vegetable growers through €442 million (£385m) in extra funding. The European Commission also provides additional funding for POs of about €700m every year.

There are currently around 1,500 POs covering 50% of the EU fruit and vegetables production, though the number in the UK is thought to be no more than 33.

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