The British Growers Association has broadly welcomed the Agriculture Bill published by the Government. The Bill is largely enabling legislation and so there is still a lot of detail to be worked out said Jack Ward, Chief Executive of the Association and the launch of the Bill will kick start this process.
In addition to the headline issues on payments to farmers and the introduction of a land management scheme there are several elements which are of particular interest to the fresh produce sector.
“We are pleased that the legislation provides for the continuation and eventual replacement of the current Producer Organisations. We look forward to seeing details of how Government plans to work with POs to develop and system which is more UK centric and better suits the needs of UK producers. The PO system provides an excellent mechanism for innovation and collaboration in return for relatively modest investments by central Government. The new Interbranch Organisations should also add a new dimension which can only be beneficial.
“British Growers also welcomes the powers that the Bill gives the Secretary of State with regards to fairness in the supply chain, and we look forward to the details of how this will help to ensure a ‘balance of power’ between primary producers and the much larger distributors and processors.
“As we said in our initial response to Health and Harmony, given the right support and encouragement we believe that the UK fresh produce industry can improve its competitiveness, develop new technologies and drive growth in some markets. The Agriculture Bill clearly provides a platform for this support and we look forward to working with Defra to ensure that this is what the forthcoming act and future strategy deliver.”