Spain: Uprooting of crops proposed to tackle crisis in stone fruit sector

Unió de Pagesos has proposed an uprooting plan to the Minister of Agriculture, Isabel García Tejerina, as an effective measure to tackle the crisis in the sweet fruit sector. They argue that this would allow the cultivation of other crops and would not require increasing the sector's budget with help from the administrations, since the Unió proposes to use the community funds allocated for exceptional withdrawals. In this regard, Unió de Pagesos recalls that resorting to withdrawals has proved to be an insufficient measure after four consecutive seasons.

The Unió's proposal to carry out the uprooting plan is based on Article 219 of the Common Market Organization (CMO) for agricultural products. The idea is for the situation to continue to be considered of market disruption in 2018 due to the continuity of the Russian veto. Therefore, Unió de Pagesos is asking the Ministry to request the European Commission's authorization to use the funds provided to alleviate the market disruption and to help producers willing to reduce their production voluntarily.

Unió de Pagesos calculates that with the same amount of aid intended for exceptional withdrawals, which amounted to of 7,888,425 Euro in Spain in 2017, and with the prospect of aid totalling 4,500 Euro per hectare, 1,752.98 hectares could be withdrawn in a year. Taking into account that, according to the data from the Ministry, the average yield in Catalonia and Aragon is 20,879.5 kilos per hectare, the proposal of the Unió would entail the production to be reduced by 36,601,415 kilos, 25% more than with the market withdrawal measures, and that in a single year. This option could be permanent and allow for multiannual uprootings, in addition to forcing the withdrawal of fruit crops for 20 years to allow the cultivation of other crops.

With the aim of maximising the use of the available resources, Unió de Pagesos believes that the uprooting plan would have to prioritise the withdrawal of the peach and nectarine varieties that hit the market in July, because this is the time when there is usually oversupply in the market and when the most productive varieties are sold, mostly in Catalonia and Aragon. Therefore, the withdrawal could amount to 50,000 tonnes per year, with yields of 35,000 kilos per hectare, almost double the volume withdrawn with the same budget, with an increase of 70% compared to the 29,325 tonnes authorised this year.

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