Reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, competition from third countries and Brexit are the biggest challenges faced by Spain’s fruit and vegetable growers and exporters, according to Fepex.

The president and director of the federation, Jorge Brotons and Jose María Pozancos, met with Agriculture Minister Luis Planas yesterday to convey the priorities of the sector to the government.

With regard to the CAP, Fepex noted that reforms should focus on three areas: making farms more sustainable by including them in the direct payment scheme; improving production planning and supply through producer organisations; and raising competitiveness through greater investment in farms and rural development.

Planas said the government fully backs these objectives, explaining that they would be reflected in the National Strategic Plan currently being prepared by the Ministry of Agriculture.

On the issue of Brexit, Fepex stressed the importance of fruits and vegetables remaining free of tariffs, both under a trade deal between the EU and UK or in the event of no deal. It also reiterated the need for agile procedures to be put in place so that import documentation could be processed in real time.

Fepex also noted that although EU imports from Morocco were exceeding the levels set out under the Association Agreement, Brussels was failing to apply the entry price regime or the safeguard clauses set out under the agreement to avoid destabilising the market.

Finally, Fepex announced that it would set up a scientific committee to speed up innovation and investment at farm level, create synergies between environmental and climate action measures and improve the competitiveness of the sector.