Writing on the NFU website, Ali Capper, Chair of the union’s horticulture and potatoes board, has said that 2021 represents a “pivotal year” for the horticulture industry.
Citing challenges including trade deals, labour supply, phytosanitary demands, Coronavirus and the ballots on the continuation of the AHDB for the horticulture and potatoes sectors, Ms Capper warned, “No industry ever stands still, and UK horticulture is no different. But the speed of change is greater than ever before and it is important we all adapt as quickly and effectively as we can.”
She said that the regulatory freedom offered by Brexit also came with challenges, explaining: “Tariffs may have been avoided in the eleventh hour Brexit deal, but logistical burden, administration and costs have not. Already we are seeing the impacts of new border controls and phytosanitary certification. Many businesses managed their trade to avoid the last couple of weeks of December and the first of January. But for those that couldn’t, I’d encourage them to let us know what challenges they are facing. We’re already hearing that shipments to Northern Ireland are so administratively burdensome that businesses are rethinking their plans. This is certainly a worry.”
She also welcomed the expansion of the seasonal workers pilot scheme for the coming season, but added, “While 30,000 permits will not be enough for us to breathe easy, it certainly is a positive and important recognition from government that such as scheme is critical for our sector – the only sector of the economy to secure such a provision.”
Finally, in terms of the future for AHDB, she suggested that whichever way the votes go, there will be changes to the way R&D and marketing is run by the industry. “Opinions remain divided amongst growers about the value of the statutory levy and on AHDB’s services,” she concluded.