Agriculture ministers unanimous over fruit and veg reforms

By Jess Halliday

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Mariann fischer boel, Fruit, Vegetable, Tomato

EU agriculture ministers this week voted unanimously in favour of
reforms to the Common Market Organisation for fruit and vegetables,
which is expected to improve competitiveness, reduce crisis-driven
fluctuations, and promote consumption.

The vote took place at this week's meeting of agriculture ministers in Luxembourg, and followed the adoption of a compromise paper in plenary. Mariann Fischer Boel, commissioner for agriculture and rural development, expressed her delight at the outcome, saying that it "will make the sector more competitive and market-orientated and hopefully encourage people to eat more fruit and vegetables.""I am particularly pleased that all Member States gave the reform their backing,"​ she said. One of the key points of the reform is that fruit and veg will now be included under the single payment scheme, with old-fashioned production-linked payments being replaced by decoupled payments. Producers organisations will given greater flexibility, their rules simplified, and they will receive 60 per cent EC funding, instead of 50 per cent. The intention is to encourage producers to band together and become stronger. Crisis management will also be organised through producers organisations. Community aid will be limited to 4.6 per cent, as before, but this could rise to 4.6 per cent if the excess is used only for crisis prevention and management. "We have also introduced a number of measures to boost consumption, and will now propose a fruit and vegetable scheme for schools based on a detailed impact assessment," said Fischer Boel. A spokesperson for the Commission told that the first compromise text was tabled on Monday morning, which was then discussed in bi-lateral meetings. A second text was then tabled on Tuesday afternoon, just prior to the vote. The spokesperson stressed that this is a political agreement, which has yet to be translated. But the final adoption is a formality, and the content will not change between now and entry into force in January 2008. It is understood that much of the implementation will be at the level of individual member states. There has been some concern that the reform will impact on raw material supply fro fruit processors, since the shift will make it more lucrative for farmers to switch to other crops rather than continue growing produce for processing. Supply issues in the medium to long-term future were discussed at the 5th​ Conference of European Vegetable Processing Industries in April. Fischer Boal indicated that she was willing to consider a transitional period to cushion the blow, but that the ultimate aim was decoupling. A spokesperson for the Organisation Of European Industries Transforming Fruit And Vegetables declined to comment on the impact of the reform at the present time.

Related topics: Fruit, vegetable, nut ingredients

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