Freshuelva and Fepex ask Europe for solutions to the crisis caused by COVID-19

Spain's berry sector urgently needs exceptional aid measures

Fepex and Freshuelva, Huelva's Association of Spanish Strawberry and Berry Producers and Exporters, stated that they trust the European Commission will activate as soon as possible the exceptional measures to help the berry sector face the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in the present campaign.

Both entities have celebrated the speed with which the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Luis Planas, requested on Wednesday 25 the Commission to mobilize financial resources and legal requirements to implement the exceptional measures provided for in articles 219 to 221 of the Regulations of the Common Organization of Markets for sectors, such as the strawberry and berry sectors.

This week, Fepex and Freshuelva had informed the minister about the serious dramatic drop in the demand for strawberries and berries in the domestic and export markets, coinciding with the maximum period of production.

They proposed adopting exceptional aid measures that can be accepted by all producers, and that consists of not harvesting the crop, allowing farmers to stop their production, and adopting exceptional measures to withdraw products, free of operational programs and valid for all farmers.

The organizations also requested the refinancing of the liabilities of agricultural entrepreneurs at zero cost and public guarantees for new campaign and investment loans; they also considered it necessary to postpone or cancel the planned tax payment schedule (personal income tax, companies, autonomous quotas, agricultural insurance, etc.).

The two organizations hope that the support measures for the sector will be activated as soon as possible, as it is a complicated moment for the production, export, and consumption of these fruits. The campaign is approximately halfway through, with slight variations according to crops.

Strawberry exports peak in the months of March and April. In March of last year the country exported 79,676 tons and in April 95,168 tons, according to data from the Department of Customs and Special Taxes. In 2019 Spain exported a total of 293,493 tons.

Berry exports peak in March, April, and May. Raspberry, blackberry and mulberry sales in March 2019 amounted to 17,020 tons, in April they stood at 8,424 tons, and in May they reached 14,151 tons. Meanwhile, the country exported 5,660 tons of blueberries in March of last year, 17,715 tons in April, 27,406 tons in May, and 10,520 tons in June.

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