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Spain: Union of Unions convenes meeting to address citrus crisis situation

The Union of Unions of Agricultural Producers and Cattle Ranchers has decided to take action to address the crisis that has hit the Spanish citrus sector. For that reason, it has convened an urgent meeting, to which all Agricultural Professional Organizations, cooperatives and exporters have been invited in order to analyze the situation and undertake joint actions.

"The situation requires the joint action of all agricultural professional organizations, ASAJA, COAG, UPA and the Union of Unions, Cooperativas Agroalimentarias, FEPEX and the Citrus Management Committee," said the organization.

The Union of Unions believes that "the proposals it is making are acceptable to all, but we suggest holding a coordination meeting as soon as possible, because we are convinced that, given the seriousness of the situation, proposals for the future must be made to both the Government and the European Commission."

In the first part of the citrus campaign, the losses suffered by producers in the Region of Valencia (the country's largest producer and marketer) amount to 130 million Euro. This is said to be a result of the anomalous market situation, caused by the massive presence of fruit from third countries (mainly South Africa, but also others) on the shelves of European supermarkets up until mid-November.

Thousands of tons of Spanish mandarins, mainly Satsumas and clementines, have been left unharvested this campaign after being displaced from the European markets by the massive imports from third countries, such as South Africa.

This market saturation has been due to the decision to grant free access to the EU to their mandarins and preferential treatment for the entry of their oranges, which will also get fully free access in 2026. Citrus prices have dropped by an average of 23% compared to the same period of the previous campaign.

Some of the points raised by the Union of Unions have to do with the renegotiation of the Agreement with the countries of Southern Africa as far as citrus imports are concerned. Until that happens, they also ask for the implementation of the safeguard clause. Moreover, they ask for European phytosanitary and labor regulations to apply also to the agricultural productions from third countries, as well as the implementation of cold treatment for all fruits and vegetables from third countries with quarantine pests.

It also calls for the promotion of a state plan for the restructuring of the citrus sector, coordinated with the producing regions, as well as for a closer look to be taken at the European and national regulations and the commitments of all actors involved. The idea is to allow the Citrus Interprofessional Intercitrus to carry out the market management functions and allow the sector to use all the instruments for crisis management that the CAP puts at its disposal. It also requests a reduction of fiscal modules for cultivation, the reduction of Social Security contributions, the exemption of the IBI or the opening of credit lines.

The Union of Unions points out that, according to data from last year, citrus fruits represented 5.09% of Spain's total agricultural production. They are especially important for the Region of Valencia, which accounts for almost 50% of the country's total production. Next in the ranking are Murcia, with almost 14%, Andalusia, with 8% and Catalonia, with 5%.

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