Defra has pledged to
maintain current levels of funding for recognised producer organisations (POs)
until the end of the current parliament following Brexit.
The announcement means that
the government will take over the £35 million of funding, which is currently
provided via the EU Fresh Fruit and Veg Scheme until 2022. The funding will
continue to be matched by growers in the 33 UK POs.
NFU Horticulture and
Potatoes Board chair Ali Capper said that she was delighted by the news, adding
it would provide “much needed clarity and certainty for the grower-members of
producer organisations which sell 50 per cent of all British fruit and veg.”
Photo Caption: There
are 33 producer organisations in the UK.
New European legislation governing fruit and vegetable Producer Organisations (POs) has come into force, promising ‘simpler rules, a reduced administrative burden and greater financial support in times of crisis.’
One of the aims of the new rules is to make POs more attractive to non-members, something which could worry current UK organisations which currently face an uncertain future after Brexit and which are worried about potential unfair levels of support compared to their European neighbours.
According to the latest available figures, there were around 1 500 POs covering 50% of the EU fruit and vegetables production. Since the Russian embargo in August 2014, the EU provided fruit and vegetable growers with €442 million in extra funding. The European Commission also provides additional funding for POs of about €700 million every year. Under the new rules, so-called withdrawal prices will increase from 30% to 40% of the average EU market price over the last five years for free distribution (so-called charity withdrawals) and from 20% to 30% for withdrawals destined for other purposes (such as compost, animal feed, distillation, etc.).
Another new rule sets the maximum percentage of produce that can be marketed outside the organisation directly by each grower at 25%, replacing the former system of a minimum threshold set at EU level and a variety of different maximum thresholds set at national level.