Tag Archives: politics

MP calls for subsidised fresh produce

Barrow-in-Furness MP John Woodcock has written to Environment Secretary Michael Gove calling on him ‘to include in the forthcoming child obesity strategy a measure to subsidise fresh fruit and vegetables in corner shops and convenience stores.’

The move comes as recent figures from the National Child Measurement Programme revealed that hundreds of children in his constituency were not getting a healthy start in life, with around a third of four- and five-year olds in the region being classed as overweight.

In his letter, Mr Woodcock says, ““Deeply shocking statistics show that 30 percent of four and five-year-olds in Barrow are overweight. As you know, children who do not get a healthy start in life are more likely to struggle at school and suffer health problems throughout their lives. Reducing child obesity is essential if we are to reduce the blight of inequality and poor life choices in Britain.”

His letter was backed by Action for Children, which runs seven Sure Start Children’s Centres throughout the area, but the charity also warned other action was also required. Michelle Doherty, service manager for the Furness Sure Start Children’s Centres, said, “Subsidising fresh fruit and vegetables would be a positive move. We would support the call for that. But subsidising those foods would not solve the issue. It has to be coupled with helping to show families how to prepare a decent healthy meal and how they can make that appeal to children.”


Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The post MP calls for subsidised fresh produce appeared first on Hort News on 14 June 2018.

Top fruit sector calls for post-Brexit support

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 consultation receives thousands of responses

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.”

The post Defra consultation receives thousands of responses appeared first on Hort News. on 17 May 2018.

Claims Defra preparing for 25% of UK farms to ‘disappear’

According to an advisor from Cardiff University who is advising the Welsh Government, Defra is consciously planning for around a quarter of the UK’s farms to ‘disappear’ after Brexit says a report in Farmers Guardian.

Dr Ludivine Petetin told a Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) meeting: “A lot of farms are currently profitable only because of direct payments coming from the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). From reading the agriculture consultation, it seems to me, and this is going to sound harsh, Defra has made a choice that the 25 per cent of farms which are at the bottom and are not doing very well will perhaps disappear.”

She believes that Defra’s core focus is on how the ‘middle 50 per cent’ of farms can continue to be successful when funding moves from direct payments towards supporting environmental schemes. He added that being outside the EU would see farmers come under pressure as they would not benefit from existing EU tariffs on agricultural imports.

A Defra spokesman said, “Our proposals will see money redirected from direct payments based only on the amount of land farmed to a new system of rewarding farms of all sizes for their work to enhance the environment.”

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The post Claims Defra preparing for 25% of UK farms to ‘disappear’ appeared first on Hort News on 11 April 2018.

Defra struggling to cope with Brexit workload

Concerns about the ability of Defra to cope with the extra volume of work being created by Brexit have resurfaced after Environment Secretary Michael Gove admitted that there could now be as many as 70 different Brexit-related work streams.

The statement was made in a letter by Mr Gove to the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) which has been published. Back in December 2017 the National Audit Office was predicting that Defra would have 43 Brexit-related work streams. MPs on the EAC have expressed concerns that Defra will be unable to hire the thousands of extra staff required to cope.

In his letter, Mr Gove said plans are in place for all ‘day one’ projects, adding he was “confident” that Defra is focusing its planning on the most complex projects. “All projects have risks attached, which will ebb and flow as the projects mature,” he said. “The department has been closely monitoring plans and risks and completing regular reviews drive out any blockers to progress.”

However, Mary Creagh, chair of the EAC, said, “We are concerned by how few of the ‘day one’ plans have been published and outlined to businesses and investors, who need clarity about our relationship with the EU during the transition and beyond. From chemicals to climate change, huge regulatory questions remain unanswered. Defra and its agencies have lost almost 5,000 staff since 2010, leaving them struggling to cope with Brexit. We have concerns about the Department’s capability to deliver a growing amount of Brexit-related work, and the cost of hiring new staff.”

Photo Caption: Michael Gove has said there are up to 70 Brexit-related work streams at Defra.

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Farmers to get soil health targets

Civil servants have revealed that the Government’s agricultural bill, which is expected to be published later this year, will include measures and targets to maintain and improve soil health.

However, comments made by Environment Secretary Michael Gove which suggest support could be prioritised or limited to those who practice min- or no-till cultivations have caused anger amongst farmers.

Rebecca Pow, parliamentary private secretary, told The Guardian that the bill would include regulation to meet the targets recent set out in the 25-year Environment Plan. “Healthy soil is essential, and there are ways of measuring it, such as the organic matter in the soil. Farmers can be given incentives to improve soil management, such as by crop rotation. It has taken a long time but I think we have turned the corner on getting soil on the political agenda,” she said.

However, speaking at an event in London last week, Michael Gove said the government would support reduced tillage. “We have to move away from our current system, which lacks effective incentives for long-term-thinking, to one that promotes investment in our shared future,” he said. “That will mean we pay farmers to improve the quality and fertility of their soil… “We want to reverse the trends of the past which have led to compaction and run-off, and which have polluted our rivers and choked our fish.”

Although lacking in details, many farmers have expressed concerns on social media that minimal tillage techniques are not suitable for all soils or crops and that any future approach needs to be flexible enough to reflect this.

Photo Credit: pxhere

The post Farmers to get soil health targets appeared first on Hort News on 21 March.

Rural Payments Agency confirms BPS 2017

The Government has claimed that British farmers will see a boost in basic payments this year after Farming Minister George Eustice increased entitlement values and greening rates.

Coupled with the favourable BPS exchange rate (of €1 to £0.8947) which was confirmed in September, basic payments will be worth 25% more on average this year, compared to 2015.

Mr Eustice commented, “Exchange rate changes since the decision to leave the EU have led to a recovery in many farming sectors and BPS payments this year will be 25% higher than in 2015.”

The RPA has published this year’s BPS rates and says the money will be in farmer’s bank accounts from 1 December. Under the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS), farmers need to hold an entitlement for every hectare of eligible land they are claiming on. The size of farmers’ payments will depend on how many entitlements they use, supported by eligible land and the value of those entitlements. The greening part of payments will be calculated by taking the number of entitlements that they have used with eligible land to claim payment and multiplying it by the greening value. Entitlement values of non-Severely Disadvantaged Areas for 2017 are €180.46 with a greening rate of €77.69.

Photo Caption: Farming Minister George Eustice.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

 

The post Rural Payments Agency confirms BPS 2017 appeared first on Hort News on 22 November 2017.

Environment Secretary plans environmental watchdog

Defra secretary Michael Gove has said he wants to set up a new watchdog for environmental protection after Brexit.

The announcement, which was made on television and elaborated in an opinion piece on Monday by Mr Gove, has surprised many, particularly as his appointment was criticised by environmental campaigners who worried he would scrap many environmental protections.

Saying that the Common Agricultural Policy had ‘damaged our countryside’ he warned that transferring all existing European law, including environmental protections, into UK law ‘was not enough.’

“Without further action, there will be a governance gap. The environment won’t be protected as it should be from the unscrupulous, unprincipled or careless,” he said. “So we will consult on using the new freedoms we have to establish a new, world-leading body to give the environment a voice and hold the powerful to account. It will be independent of government, able to speak its mind freely.

“And it will be placed on a statutory footing, ensuring it has clear authority. Its ambition will be to champion and uphold environmental standards, always rooted in rigorous scientific evidence.”

He added that the consultation would be published in early 2018.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia – Michael Gove – UK Parliament official portraits 2017

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CLA says Brexit “is great opportunity” for farming

The CLA has called for a dedicated strategy which targets investment in supporting farmers to be more resilient, productive and profitable once the UK leaves the European Union.

The calls are made in a new paper from the organisation, which says efficiencies can be achieved in the industry through the adoption of new technologies and practices, including farmers and growers working more efficiently with each other and the supply chain.

CLA Deputy President Tim Breitmeyer commented, “Brexit is a major opportunity for agriculture. There are many important decisions to get right with regard to trade and transition, but there is significant cause for optimism.

“Success can be delivered through new policy that targets a range of measures and a clear investment strategy focused on improving the profitability and productivity of the farming industry should be part of this drive.  The Government and the industry must come together to develop this and our report provides a clear overview of where the priorities lie.

“Delivering profitable farming is one of three strands that make up the CLA’s vision for a post-Brexit Food, Farming and Environmental Policy. At its core is our strong belief that a profitable, resilient farming sector is the foundation of a thriving rural economy and the means to deliver for nature and the environment.”

Photo Credit: Pixart Bay

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European produce industry publishes Brexit report

The European Fresh Produce Association, Freshfel, has published a position paper on the Impact of Brexit on the European fruit and vegetable industry.

It points out that the EU is a significant net exporter to the UK, with a trade flow of 3.1 million tonnes, worth €4 billion a year, with a high dependence of the UK on fresh produce supply from EU mainland. It also quotes recent research by Rabobank which suggests that, after animal protein, fresh produce will be the agricultural sector most affected by Brexit, a situation which will compound the recent loss of the €2 million tonne a year Russian market.

The top ten products supplied from Europe include tomatoes, onions, sweet peppers, cucumber, cauliflower, apples, pears, soft citrus, oranges and bananas, with the five largest suppliers being Spain, the Netherlands, France, Germany and Ireland. In contrasts, last year the UK exported just 310,000 tonnes of fresh produce, most of which went to Ireland, which is heavily depend on UK supply.

As with other industries, Freshfel also pointed to the effects of uncertainty, saying: ‘While acknowledging, that there might be a certain tariff & quota regime in place after the divorce, it is essential to define the new tariff regime at the earliest, to give operators calculation certainty after the 29th of March 2019 and to take potential cost increase into account.’

The full report can be found at http://freshfel.org/freshfel-position-paper-on-the-impact-of-brexit-on-the-eu-fruit-and-vegetable-industry/

Photo Credit: Freshfel

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