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Priorities for European fruit and vegetable working party

Copa-Cogeca, the organisations representing European farmers and agri co-operatives, will be working to support producer organisations (POs), such as co-operatives, in the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy post-2020.

Announcing his top priorities as the new chair of Copa-Cogeca’s Fruit and Vegetable working group, Philippe Appeltans highlighted the contribution of co-ops in enabling producers to earn more from their products.

“Fruit and vegetable POs such as co-operatives have played a positive role in helping producers to get a better price for their fruit and vegetables during the agricultural crisis,” he said.

“It was recognition of the positive role of POs, which include co-operatives in the fruit and vegetable sector, that led, in the last reform of the CAP, the EU to put more focus on tools to support POs like co-operatives. And it must be continued and built on in the CAP post-2020 when an options paper is set to be released on this by the EU Commission in Summer next year.”

He added that another issue Copa-Cogeca will be working on is making sure new EU member states encourage farmers to join POs such as co-operatives, particularly in states where these enterprise models are not very developed.

“They [POs] are highly concentrated in Belgium, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands in the fruit and vegetable sector and we need to help them and extend them to other countries to enable farmers to better market their produce and get a better return for it,” said Mr Appeltans.

“We also need to overcome hurdles and legal obstacles so that POs, which include co-operatives, can get bigger and be on a more level playing field with retailers.”

The agri sector has been severely affected by the Russian ban on EU agricultural products. Copa-Cogeca’s fruit and vegetable working party will aim to find additional market outlets for its members’ produce.

Mr Appeltans is secretary general of the Association of Belgian Horticultural Auctions (VBT) and member of the Belgian Farm Organisation Boerenbond. He was elected in Brussels on 18 October for a two-year term, taking over from Hans Vans Es from the Dutch Organisation DPA.

He will be supported by two vice chairs: Sergio Tondini from the Italian Cooperative Alliance; and Krzysztof Krzesniak from the Polish Agriculture Organisation Solidarnosc (NSZZ).

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