Freshuelva has told the Councilor of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Sustainable Development of the Andalusian Government, Carmen Crespo, about the need to make changes to optimize the funding of the operational programs of Fruit and Vegetable Producer Organizations (FVPO). The idea is to help the berry sector in the province of Huelva to face the serious consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Huelva-based association has argued that the drop in sales in the sector, estimated at an average of 50% compared to the same period last season, is causing losses in the present that will affect the economic capacity to plant, grow and produce food in the immediate future.
The Council has been asked to contact the Ministry of Agriculture and request changes in regulations regarding FVPO operational programs in order to optimize the approved budgets, make possible modifications more flexible, and allow the incorporation of expenses, such as that in seedlings for the next campaign, to offset the investments that could not be made due to the situation generated by the current crisis.
Freshuelva stressed that the adoption of these measures will allow the berry sector to continue carrying out its essential activities. It will also prevent the loss of the budgeted funds of the FVPO, optimizing them and incorporating expenses that will offset the investments that will not be made. Lastly, it will protect thousands of jobs, also the indirect ones in the auxiliary industry, like packaging, transport, etc.
On the same lines, the association had already told the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Luis Planas, about the urgency for the European Commission to activate exceptional measures to help the berry sector and alleviate the situation caused in the current campaign by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fepex and Freshuelva proposed the adoption of exceptional aid measures that would be open to all producers, regardless of whether they are members of producer organizations. These would entail the non-harvest of the fruit, as well as exceptional product withdrawals that would be free of charge to the operational programs. The organizations also requested the possibility of obtaining loans with special conditions.
The Minister gave a quick response to Fepex and Freshuelva's request, which he then shared in the meeting of European Agriculture ministers on March 25. There he urged the Commission to mobilize the necessary financial and legal resources to implement the exceptional measures provided for in articles 219 to 221 of the Regulations of the Common Organization of Markets. The idea is to support those sectors which are in an exceptional situation due to the coronavirus crisis.
Fepex and Freshuelva hope that the support measures for the berry sector will be activated as soon as possible, since its campaign is currently at its peak in terms of production, export and consumption.