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Frost damages the production of up to 40 Catalan fruit and almond cooperatives

The Federation of Agricultural Cooperatives of Catalonia (FCAC) met on Monday, in Lleida, with the cooperatives affected by the intense frost of early April.

There are a total of about 40 agricultural cooperatives, 30 in Lleida and a dozen in Tarragona, which have lost a good part of the harvest and, consequently, will see their income drastically reduced, reaching in some cases an 85% drop.

Specifically, 19 cooperatives of Segrià, 5 of Les Garrigues, 3 of Noguera, and 3 of Pla d'Urgell were affected in the regions of Lleida; in Tarragona, the damages were mainly located in the regions of Ribera de 'Ebro, Terra Alta, Priorat, and Baix Camp.

By productive sectors, the fruit crops of 26 cooperatives suffered damage, both in their stone fruit and pome fruit productions, and the almond crops of fifteen cooperatives are in danger.

Ramon Sarroca, the president of the FCAC, lamented the magnitude of the damage caused by the intense and unusual frost in April, which caused irreparable damage to fruit and almond trees in a large area of the interior of Catalonia. "We are particularly concerned about the situation of the affected cooperative companies because they will have a sharp drop in income and may find it difficult to maintain their personnel structure, or viability," he added.

In this sense, the FCAC said that, despite the drop in production, the agricultural cooperatives will work to maintain their commercial activity, even though there's been an increase in fixed expenses per kilo of packaged fruit that will affect its subsequent liquidation.

For this reason, the FCAC stated, it's necessary to establish direct aids that facilitate meeting fixed costs and avoid a possible implementation of employment regulation dossiers, with the consequences that would have for the territory.

Other necessary measures include the advance of aid linked to cooperatives, the exemption from payment of the social security contributions of the cooperative and its workers, a request to the Tax Agency for a special amortization plan to reduce the outstanding amortizations during the period in which production is significantly reduced and not applying the maximum limit, provided for in Law 20/90 on the tax regime, for operations with non-member third parties without losing the cooperative's especial protection status.

In Catalonia, there are 37 agricultural cooperatives of sweet fruit that produce 45% of Catalonia's total stone fruit (peach, nectarine...) and 34% of its pome fruit (apple and pear). The 73 nut cooperatives produce 75% of all of Catalonia's almonds.



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