In his New Year message, NFU Horticulture and Potatoes Board chair Martin Emmett praises the determination of the sector and looks to the government to deliver its ambition to grow horticulture production.
To say these are turbulent times is a gross understatement.
It seems since the Brexit vote in 2016, our industry has faced one crisis after another, and it is a testament to the skills and determination of our members that we are still here, pushing not only for survival but for growth. The immediate challenges are stark.
With only short-term commitments from the government on energy costs and (at the time of writing) uncertainty over the size and length of the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme, confidence is low, and production is falling.
"As we head into 2023, we must remove energy and labor as the economic barriers for this sector."
NFU Horticulture and Potatoes Board chair Martin Emmett
The NFU continues to push the government to recognize horticulture, and the food and farming sector as a whole, as a 'vulnerable' sector that requires prioritization in government policymaking.
As we head into 2023, we must remove energy and labor as the economic barriers for this sector.
Indeed, the government itself has published an ambition to increase horticulture production, as set out in the Government Food Strategy.
It will be a priority for the NFU Horticulture and Potatoes Board to secure policy changes that can start to realize that ambition.
The investment will be key, and the NFU will push for the long-awaited replacement of the Producer Organisation Scheme to be developed without delay.
We will also need a more enabling crop protection policy, better access to ELMs (Environmental Land Management scheme), security of water supplies, a less burdensome and costly plant import regime, and an enabling planning policy, to name just a few.
Net zero plans
Weaving through all of these issues is the ambition to move towards a net zero food and farming sector, and in 2023 the NFU will release a
sector plan to guide members towards opportunities.
Fairness for farmers and growers
Critically, the NFU will continue to push for greater fairness in the supply chain.
Following on from the release of two cost inflation reports – each showing unprecedented cost inflation in our sector – and a series of cost price inflation workshops to better equip members in their negotiations, we have written to retailers to call for timely and pragmatic responses to cost inflation requests, and are raising members' concerns anonymously with the GCA (Groceries Code Adjudicator).
Through 2023 we will shine a spotlight on behaviors that do not meet the GCA's seven golden rules.