Check out the latest news about European citrus in this USDA FAS report, including the heavy pressure on growers of easy peelers. Also, I've excerpted a portion of the report on changes to EU agriculture policy and support.

EU-27 citrus orchards include orange, lemon, mandarin and grapefruit groves. Production is mainly located in the Mediterranean regions of Spain, Italy and Greece, with lesser production in France, Cyprus, Malta and Portugal. For MY 2010/11, total EU citrus production is expected to be stable with a 5 percent decrease in orange production and a minor increase in mandarin, lemon, and grapefruit production.

Production: While Spanish farmers continue to replant their groves with new varieties to extend the production season, the principal obstacle to mandarin production remains the production windfall during the initial months of the marketing year -- October, November and December. Spain’s tangerine production is expected to increase by approximately 8 percent to 2,190,000 MT in MY 2010/11.

This year the weather was favorable. Spring was cool and rainy giving the plant optimal development conditions and this translated in a good production of fruit with adequate commercial sizes. Tangerines are the second most important citrus product in Portugal, after oranges. The Algarve is the most representative region. The production of tangerines is also expected to increase in MY 2010/11 to over 68,000 MT due to good weather. Italian tangerine MY 2010/2011 harvest is forecast to remain stable at MY 2009/10 levels.

Despite that Italian tangerine producers are facing hard times in MY 2010/11 due to falling prices triggered by increasing supply in the world market. Growing imports especially from Spain together with decreasing domestic consumption are severely hampering the tangerine sector in the main producing regions (Sicilia, Calabria and Basilicata). If prices do not rise over the marketing year, farm margins are expected to be negative. According to first estimates however, early easy peelers from Calabria show a good quality level. MY 2010/11 production is expected at 835,000 MT slightly above previous year harvest.

About 20 percent of total crop is represented by the traditional mandarins, cultivated mainly in Sicily, while the remaining 80 percent is given by the hybrid varieties, which prevail in other southern regions (Calabria and Apulia). Greek tangerine production is expected to increase by 10 percent in MY 2010/2011. The main producing areas include the prefectures of Igoumenitsa, Arta, Mosologgi, and Thesprotia, located in northern Greece. Clementine is the major tangerine variety grown in Greece.

All types of tangerines and hybrids represent 39 percent of total citrus production in Cyprus. MY 2010/11 Cypriot tangerine production is expected to grow by 5 percent, due to the increased availability of water supplies, despite the lack of rain since the summer. Famagusta, Limassol, Larnaca, and Paphos districts are the major orange-producing areas. Mandoras, Tangelo, Minneolas, Nova, and Clementines are the main tangerine varieties grown in Cyprus. Total European tangerine production is expected to increase and reach over 3,280,000 MT in MY2010/11.


Policy: A new Common Market Organization (CMO) for fruit and vegetables, together with a fresh set of implementing rules, has been in place with effect from January 1, 2008. The European Commission asserts that the aim of the reformed

CMO is to improve the competitiveness and market orientation of the fruit and vegetable sector, reduce income fluctuations resulting from crises, promote consumption – so contributing to improved public health – and enhance environmental safeguards. New measures set out to encourage growers to join Producer Organizations (POs). POs are offered a wider range of tools for crisis management; the fruit and vegetable sector is integrated into the Single Payment Scheme (SPS); a minimum level of environmental spending is required; EU funding for promotion and organic production is increased; and export subsidies for fruit and vegetables are abolished.


Producer Organizations (POs): POs will gain greater flexibility and their rules will be simplified. There will be additional support (60 percent Community co-financing rather than 50 percent) in areas where production covered by POs is less than 20 percent, and, in particular, in the new Member States, to encourage the creation of POs. Member States and POs will develop Operational Programs based on a national strategy.


Crisis Management:
This will be organized through Producer Organizations (50 percent financed by the Community budget). Tools will include green harvesting/non-harvesting, promotion and communication tools in times of crisis, training, harvest insurance, help in securing bank loans and financing of the administrative costs of setting up mutual funds. Withdrawals can be carried out by POs with 50 percent co-financing. Withdrawals for free distribution to schools etc will be 100 percent paid by the Community.

Community aid to POs will remain limited to 4.1 percent of the total value of marketed produce, but this may rise to 4.6 percent provided that the excess is used only for crisis prevention and management. For three years, state aid may be granted to extend crisis management measures to non members who enter into a contract with a PO. Compensation for non members will be no more than 75 percent of the Community support received by PO members.


Inclusion of fruit and vegetables in the Single Payment Scheme (SPS): Land covered by fruit and vegetables will become eligible for payment entitlements under the decoupled aid scheme which applies in other farm sectors. All existing support for processed fruit and vegetables will be decoupled and the national budgetary ceilings for the SPS will be increased. The total amount that will be transferred to the SPS is around €800 million. For tomatoes, Member States will be allowed to apply transitional payments for a four-year transitional period (2008-2011), provided that the coupled proportion of the payment does not exceed 50 percent of the national ceiling.

For non-annual crops, they will be allowed to apply transitional payments for five years, provided that after December 31, 2010, the coupled proportion does not exceed 75 percent of the national ceiling. Member States may if they so choose postpone the distribution of fruit and vegetable entitlements for up to three years.


Environmental measures:
The inclusion of fruit and vegetables in the SPS means that Cross Compliance (i.e. mandatory environmental standards) will be compulsory for those farmers receiving direct payments. In addition, POs must devote at least 10 percent of expenditure in each Operational Program to environmental measures. There will be a 60 percent Community co-financing rate for organic production in each Operational Program.


Encouraging greater consumption:
Higher consumption of fruit and vegetables was one of the goals identified in the Commission's White Paper on Nutrition, published in May 2007. POs will be able to include promotion of fruit and vegetable consumption in their operational programs. There will be an additional €6 million under the general promotion regulation for the promotion of fruit and vegetables targeted at children in educational establishments. There will be an €8 million budget for free distribution of fruit and vegetables to schools, hospitals and charitable bodies, which will be 100 percent financed by the Community up to a limit of 5 percent of the quantity marketed by a PO. The Council asked the Commission to carry out a feasibility study into the creation of a school fruit and vegetable scheme.


Transitional soft fruit payment: To allow producers of strawberries and raspberries for processing to adapt to market circumstances, they will receive a transitional direct payment worth €230 per hectare for
maximum period of 5 years for aset number of hectares. Member States may pay a national top-up so that the total shall not exceed €400/hectare.


Separate fruit and vegetable payment for Single Area Payment Scheme (SAPS) countries:
Countries applying the Single Area Payment Scheme will be able to introduce a decoupled fruit and vegetable payment to historical producers of fruit and vegetables. Member States had to decide by November 1, 2007 the amount to be deducted from the SAPS envelope to cover this and the criteria used for the allocation of the fruit and vegetable payment.
Maximum Residue Level for Fruit Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs) for pesticides, including import tolerances, have been harmonized throughout the EU since September 2008.

Regulation 1107/2009 concerning the placing on the market of plant protection products (PPPs) will become fully applicable from June 14, 2011 and is setting out the rules for the authorization of plant protection products (PPPs). How this will affect MRLs can only be determined after the new legislation is fully implemented. For more information, see at: http://ec.europa.eu/food/plant/protection/pesticides/index_en.htm or http://www.fas.usda.gov/posthome/useu/pesticides.html Certification of Plant Products Unlike animal products, certification of plants and plant products is not harmonized within the EU.

Phytosanitary certificates issued by an APHIS inspector are required to accompany U.S. shipments. APHIS issues phytosanitary certificates in accordance with international regulations set down by the International Plant Protection Convention of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. This standard-setting body coordinates cooperation between nations to control plant and plant product pests and to prevent their spread. An overview of EU mandatory and voluntary certificates can be found at: http://www.fas.usda.gov/posthome/useu/certificates-overview.html.

Council Directive 2000/29/EC contains provisions concerning compulsory plant health checks. This includes documentary, identity and physical plant health checks to verify compliance with EU import requirements. More information can be accessed on DG Health & Consumer Protection's website http://ec.europa.eu/food/plant/organisms/imports/inspection_en.htm . Commission Regulation 1756/2004 provides for plant health checks to be carried out at reduced frequency when this can be justified (list of products recommended for plant health checks at reduced levels updated June 26, 2009).