Fruit Focus will return to NIAB EMR on 17 July. The NFU will host the first two Fruit Forums. With speakers from government, industry and politicians, the panels will examine sector ambition and future immigration policy.
SESSION ONE: 10-11am, Setting the Ambition for a Productive and Profitable Horticulture Industry
The first panel session will focus on the productivity of the sector and how future agricultural policy can support this growth. Speakers include the Minister of State for Defra, Robert Goodwill MP, whose brief includes food, farming, science and innovation – all incredibly pertinent to the growth of horticultural sector.
This is a fantastic opportunity for growers to hear directly form the Minister on the future of the sector post-Brexit. Alongside Mr Goodwill we have NFU Horticulture and Potatoes Board Chair Ali Capper and AHDB Head of Horticulture Knowledge Exchange Dr Debbie Wilson, who will talk about the AHDB SmartHort programme. NFU Chief Horticulture and Potatoes Adviser Lee Abbey will chair the session and there will be time for questions.
SESSION TWO: 11am-12 noon, Future Immigration Policy and What it Means for Horticulture
Our second session, chaired by Ali Capper, will delve into the ongoing issue of labour access, which is causing increasing problems for growers as supply continues to tighten. We are excited to bring a panel of politicians, government and industry to discuss different efforts to overcome this problem right now, and the potential challenges and opportunities in future immigration policy.
To discuss the Seasonal Workers Pilot scheme we have the CEO for Concordia, Stephanie Maurel, and Head of Seasonal Labour, Stephanie Sloan. It is also great to have Helen Whately, MP for Faversham and Mid-Kent and Chair of the APPG for Fruit and Vegetable Farming. Mrs Whately has been a passionate supporter of the sector, and campaigned extensively for the Seasonal Workers Pilot. Giving the growers’ perspective is David Long, NFU Horticulture and Potatoes Board member, and a top and soft fruit grower in Kent, who will explain the impact labour shortages have had on his farm and the efforts he has made to mitigate this problem.