Scottish fruit grower James Porter has told Scotland’s Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing that the country’s successful soft fruit industry needs a seasonal workers scheme in place by this summer if crop is not to be wasted.
Mr Porter made the comments during a visit by Mr Ewing to co-operative Angus Growers based at Auchrennie near Carnoustie, where the MSP visited polytunnels used to grow strawberries and spoke to workers.
With the soft fruit industry estimated to be worth £134 million to Scotland’s economy, Mr Porter, who is also NFU Scotland’s soft fruit chairman, said, “We urgently need a seasonal workers scheme which will apply to people from out with the EU, because the weakness of the pound no longer makes working in the UK such an attractive option. He added that while his business currently has enough workers, he expects to be 15 per cent short by August, and that EU labour will not be enough to meet demand.
Mr Ewing said that the issue is down to Westminster and that he had pressed Environment Secretary Michael Gove on the issue: “After the second meeting [Gove] said the seasonal workers scheme would come forward soon, then advised ‘complete clarity’ by the end of March. The end of March has come and gone and now the end of April has gone. The UK Government could end this ongoing uncertainty by committing to remaining in the EU single market and customs union. Such a position would demonstrate to seasonal workers that Scotland, and the whole of the UK, remains an open and welcoming place to live and work.”
Photo Caption: Fergus Ewing visited cooperative Angus Growers
Photo Credit: Fergus Ewing
The post Scottish soft fruit needs labour commitment appeared first on Hort News. on 17 May 2018.
English Apples & Pears (EAP), the association for UK top fruit producers, has said that the government must continue to support fruit growers after the UK leaves the EU.
In its submission to Defra’s Health and Harmony consultation, the group called for, ‘A more enabling and holistic regulatory framework for the approval of plant-protection products and to provide parity for UK growers with EU growers before we leave the EU.’ It also called for support for new varietal development, saying that this would help to ‘bolster plant health and pest and disease resistance.’
Overall EAP set out 12 points for action, including continued support for Producer Organisations, labour availability and health & sustainability. EAP chairman Ali Capper commented, “We are asking government to urgently support policy and campaigns that will increase the consumption of British-grown apples and pears. British orchards are capable of delivering public good – it’s good for the environment and the fruit produced is good for the nation’s health too. We’re ambitious to grow the size of the British crop. We know this is possible but we will need action in key areas in order to make this happen.”
Photo Credit: Wye Fruit
The post Top fruit sector calls for post-Brexit support appeared first on Hort News on 17 May 2018.
Defra has received more than 44,000 responses to its consultation on farming, food and environmental policy after Brexit. 20,000 of these were received in the last week of the process.
The consultation, which closed on Tuesday 8 May attracted responses from farmers, NGOs and others in direct and indirect support for farmers, environmental protection and even the strategic importance of food to the UK. During the consultation process Defra also held 17 events across the country with stakeholders including the NFU, National trust and others.
The Agricultural Industries Confederation said the Government’s drive for environmental enhancements as part of its new farming policy must be coupled with an equal drive on agricultural production, underpinned by the enabling of new technologies and innovation.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove said, “It’s great news that so many people have responded so enthusiastically to our consultation. Leaving the European Union gives us the opportunity to improve the support we give to Britain’s farmers. We can make farming more productive, improve the quality of the food we eat and enhance our natural environment. We’ll reflect on the many thoughtful ideas put forward in response to our consultation and bring forward our plans for legislation later this year.”
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