New European legislation governing fruit and vegetable Producer Organisations (POs) has come into force, promising ‘simpler rules, a reduced administrative burden and greater financial support in times of crisis.’
One of the aims of the new rules is to make POs more attractive to non-members, something which could worry current UK organisations which currently face an uncertain future after Brexit and which are worried about potential unfair levels of support compared to their European neighbours.
According to the latest available figures, there were around 1 500 POs covering 50% of the EU fruit and vegetables production. Since the Russian embargo in August 2014, the EU provided fruit and vegetable growers with €442 million in extra funding. The European Commission also provides additional funding for POs of about €700 million every year. Under the new rules, so-called withdrawal prices will increase from 30% to 40% of the average EU market price over the last five years for free distribution (so-called charity withdrawals) and from 20% to 30% for withdrawals destined for other purposes (such as compost, animal feed, distillation, etc.).
Another new rule sets the maximum percentage of produce that can be marketed outside the organisation directly by each grower at 25%, replacing the former system of a minimum threshold set at EU level and a variety of different maximum thresholds set at national level.
Photo Credit: Flickr