Plant health – Defra publishes plan to combat pests and diseases

An image of rows of corn

Defra has published a new action plan to protect plants from pests and diseases, in partnership with the Forestry Commission and the Scottish and Welsh Governments

The Plant biosecurity strategy for Great Britain sets out a five-year vision for plant health, consisting of an action plan to secure national biosecurity, protect native species and drive economic growth.

Defra has said the strategy will create a new biosecurity regime and bio-secure plant supply chain, which will safeguard food security and help mitigate the effects of climate change.

What does the plan say?

Actions detailed in the plan include:

  • Expanding the Animal and Plant Health Agency’s Internet Trading Unit to increase monitoring of online retailers and social media sites for the trade of high-risk plant products.
  • The commitment of signatories of the Plant Health Accord, which the NFU is a part of, to increase public engagement with plant health initiatives.

Shared responsibility

“Biosecurity is everyone’s responsibility, from government, to those who grow and supply plants, and the public.”

NFU Vice President David Exwood

Responding to Defra’s announcement, NFU Vice President David Exwood said: “The NFU signed-up to the ‘Public Engagement in Plant Health Accord’ as part of our continued work in raising awareness of the importance of plant health.

“Biosecurity is everyone’s responsibility, from government, to those who grow and supply plants, and the public, so we think it’s right for the costs and responsibility for plant health to be shared.

“We believe in developing sustainable plant health solutions that enable UK farmers and growers to produce crops that meet the needs of the public, the environment, and profitable and productive farming businesses.”

Science-led approach

The NFU agrees with the importance government places on protecting plants from pests and diseases, to counter the threat they pose to food security, trade and biodiversity. Outbreaks of plant pests and disease can result in losses and significant costs for farming businesses, the environment and the public.

We will be looking at the details of the new Plant Biosecurity Strategy for Great Britain to make sure it follows a science-led risk-based approach that supports domestic production while ensuring GB plant health is maintained effectively.

You can read the strategy in full on the government's website: GOV.UK | Plant biosecurity strategy for Great Britain

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