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December 2020

British Growers News Update – Seasonal Labour for 2021

By Industry News

Seasonal labour


The Government has announced that the Seasonal Workers Permit Scheme will be expanded to 30,000 permits for the 2021 season. These permits will be in addition to those granted settled and pre-settled status.


The scheme will be open to workers from anywhere in the world and there will be no distinction between EU residents and residents outside the EU. the decision about where to recruit workers from will be down to the scheme operators.


For 2021, two new scheme operators will be appointed in addition to Pro-Force and Concordia who operated the scheme in 2020. The appointment of the two new operators should be complete by April and the industry has emphasised these new operators need to be in place as soon as possible to ensure the industry has enough workers at the start of the season.


Recruitment of domestic workers


The Government will also work with industry to build on this year’s Pick for Britain campaign and actively promote the recruitment and retention of domestic seasonal workers in 2021.


Review into automation


Alongside the Seasonal Workers Pilot, Defra will lead a review into automation in horticulture, to begin in early 2021. The review will report on ways to increase automation in the sector and meet the government’s aim of reducing the need for migrant seasonal labour.




Although the number of permits may not be high enough to meet all the demands for seasonal labour, this is a significant step forward and against a difficult political backdrop of a commitment to control the UK boarders and a significant rise in unemployment, this is a major achievement by the industry. No other sector has been granted this concession. Defra has also indicated that it will keep the situation under review as the 2021 season progresses.



Jack Ward

CEO, British Growers


23rd December 2020

International Carrot and other Apiaceae Symposium- Postponed

By Industry News

It is with great sadness that we announce that the ISHS International Carrot and other Apiaceae Symposium, due to be held in York 2021, will be postponed.

The event was due to take place between the 4th and 7th October 2021 in York, UK. However, due to the ongoing concerns surrounding Covid-19 eradication plans, the third Carrot and Apiaceae Symposium will be postponed. The organisers are working with the ISHS, sponsors and the event’s scientific committee to finalise a new date for the Symposium. The new Symposium dates will be announced shortly.

We can already confirm that the reorganised Symposium will include attendance at the British Carrot Growers Association Demonstration Day.

Details of the abstract submission timings will be released when the date is confirmed. All ticket sales will be automatically transferred to the new event date. For more information, please contact the British Growers office on 01507 602427 or

British Growers News Update – AHDB Strategy

By Industry News

AHDB 5 Year Strategy 2021 – 2026

On Monday 7 December Published its long-awaited strategy. The full text of the document can be accessed here

The following is a brief summary of the key issues which might be of interest to the fresh produce sector.

One size doesn’t fit all

There is a recognition of the genuine differences between the challenges facing sectors and even within sectors and that levy payers’ requirements for research, marketing, exports or analysis are not the same. Therefore, levies must be set to reflect the value provided.

Modern levy system in horticulture and potatoes

AHDB has listened to industry concerns about the current levy system and during 2020 worked with growers to develop and test a more modern system. AHDB is keen to develop a levy system where future levy rates are based on what levy payers say they want done. These will vary across different horticulture crop groups.

Delivering a more efficient organisation

AHDB recognises the need to be more efficient including cutting costs and providing better value. Existing services and costs will be reviewed to determine if they can be delivered more effectively, notably staff and support costs.

Regular ballots

AHDB is committing to a regular ballot every five years to ensure the organisation is accountable and levy payers have a say on the future of the levy.

The specifics for horticulture

The strategy recognises the outlook for horticulture businesses remains challenging over the next five years, with pressure on margins and resources and an increasingly competitive environment.

The challenges are summarised as:

  • Identifying management tools for existing and emerging pest, weed and disease threats
  • Managing business with increasing staff costs and a shortage of skilled labour
  • Managing resources to minimise environmental impacts and maximise benefits


There are several commitments of interest to the fresh produce sector.

  • Inform tomorrow’s consumers on how their food is produced through an education partnership with the British Nutrition Foundation
  • Fly the flag for British produce overseas with staff in key markets, including China
  • Make the most of established export markets to grow opportunities for British produce
  • Work to secure access to new markets to increase export opportunities
  • Explore the potential for a new export brand to communicate the credentials of British produce overseas
  • Support UK businesses to export by providing practical ‘know-how’ and local insights

 Wider non-specific issues

Future key areas of work will centre on:

 Bringing data, insight and analysis together in an easy-to-use format to help farmers, growers and supply chains make better business decisions

  • Helping farming and growing businesses reduce their environmental footprint to meet future policy and consumer needs
  • Investing in targeted research to tackle current and future pests, weeds and diseases
  • Helping levy payers, industry and researchers share technical information and best practice through the AHDB Farm Excellence Network and skills development
  • Unlocking and making the most of export opportunities to grow markets for British produce
  • Promoting our industry and building the reputation of its products at home and overseas

 And finally

AHDB has published the following 5 commitments designed to influence its direction for its next 5 years.

AHDB will

  1. Communicate regularly on how the levy has been spent and the benefits and engage with levy payers to determine priorities
  2. Work with growers and the supply chain to design a modern levy system
  3. Focus on farm performance, marketing and exports, driven by independent evidence
  4. Develop a board and advisory structure that reduces both bureaucracy and costs
  5. Hold a regular ballot on the future of the levy – so levy payers can express their views on the value of AHDB

Jack Ward


British Growers

 7th December 2020

British Growers News Update – The Path to Sustainable Farming

By Industry News

On 31st November, George Eustice announced the Government’s plan to deliver a better, fairer farming system in England. This is a short summary of the issues which may be of interest to the fresh produce sector.


Full details can be accessed here.


On the 1st January 2021 the agricultural transition period will start. Between 2021 and 2027, Defra

will gradually reduce and then stop untargeted Direct Payments.


Based on an area of 150,000 ha of production for UK horticulture the loss to the sector will be circa £35m. We know that some production land is rented in on annual cropping licenses so in practice the figure is probably less than this, but still significant.


By 2028, the aim is:

  • a renewed agricultural sector, producing healthy food for consumption at home and abroad, where farms can be profitable and economically sustainable without subsidy.
  • farming and the countryside contributing significantly to environmental goals including addressing climate change.



The new Environment Land Management Scheme will be introduced through pilots and tests from 2021-2024; early roll out of some core elements of all components, particularly the Sustainable Farming Incentive from 2022 and all three components fully available from 2024.


Farming Incentive Scheme

Farmers and growers will be able to enter the Farming Incentive Scheme and choose which elements of the scheme they want to take part in. It will focus on soil management, integrated pest management, nutrient management and livestock management. Initially, all farmers and growers currently in receipt of the Basic Payment Scheme will be eligible.


Exit and New Entrants’ Scheme

From 2022, there will be an exit support scheme to help farmers who want to retire. At the same time, a new scheme will be introduced offering additional support to help new entrants into the industry.


Cross Compliance

Cross-compliance requirements and standards will continue until payments are delinked. Defra will then move to a new regulatory regime developed in partnership with the industry between 2021 and 2024.


Supply Chain Fairness

The intention is to use the powers in the Agriculture Act 2020 to address market failures that have led to farmers and growers having a weaker position in the supply chain.