With the new year upon us, NFU Horticulture and Potatoes Chairman Ali Capper looks forward to 2020:
The year of 2019 has been another challenging one for farming. A difficult growing season was set against the backdrop of ongoing political uncertainty, Brexit delays, and yet another General Election.
Accessing labour has been at the top of our agenda and we engaged directly with the Home Secretary, immigration minister, Defra minister and Number 10. It was an issue that secured incredible cross-industry collaboration and support and demonstrated that we speak with one voice. We also focused on trade implications of a no-deal Brexit for the sector, and we continue to make the case for seasonal protection and equivalent standards to be required from imported foods.
In the summer, we secured Co-op’s signature to the NFU Plants & Flowers Pledge, which should deliver greater certainty for their suppliers. And the Potato Forum kicked off a review of its important Bridging the Gap initiative to deliver greater transparency in the potato supply chain.
The year ahead promises to be equally challenging in many ways. It remains critical that we have access to sufficient seasonal and permanent workers, a water framework that enables us to irrigate our crops, a domestic agricultural policy that rewards productivity and environmental best practice, and a supply chain that works in collaboration with growers to deliver the products consumers want.
This is a resilient and ambitious sector. Getting the policies right is our key aim, and doing so will mean horticulture has the potential to grow significantly. Our climate means the UK is one of the best places to grow fruit, veg, plants and flowers.
And our standards of production, worker welfare, environmental protection and food safety are world leading. During 2020, we will be working to influence the government’s Food Strategy to put horticulture right at the heart of government policy, and putting greater investment into this sector that delivers for health, the environment, and the economy.
Hear more from our board and forum chairman on their plans for 2020 below: