Category

Company News

AHDB Ballot Confirmed on Statutory Levy for Horticulture – Update

By Company News

This is the latest announcement from AHDB detailing its plans for a ballot of AHDB Horticulture levy payers:

 AHDB has formally announced there will be a ballot on the continuation of a statutory levy in horticulture. It will be a yes or no vote on the future existence of AHDB Horticulture and the work it delivers on behalf of growers.

The announcement follows confirmation that AHDB had received valid requests for a ballot from more than five per cent of horticulture levy payers.

AHDB will now procure the service of an independent company to administer the vote process. This will take a number of weeks and AHDB envisages that voting process will commence in January. Every levy payer will be invited and encouraged to vote in the ballot.

Once the ballot has concluded, AHDB will publish the results on its website and inform Ministers. Ministers will then make a decision on the future of the levy, taking into account various factors, such as voter turnout. Ministers are not bound by the result of the ballot.

Nicholas Saphir, AHDB Chair, said. “We welcome the opportunity for an open debate on the important role of AHDB and how it is the funding backbone of horticultural applied research and development to address crop protection, labour, resource use, and technical innovation.”

Supporting Veg Power

 The Veg Power team recently issued a prospectus to support its fund-raising activities to continue the Veg Power campaign. The following text is taken from the introduction to the prospectus.

 “So far, the campaign has raised £1.7m in cash funding for our campaigns and secured over £10m of donated media space, goods and services, led by our foremost partner ITV. Our Eat Them to Defeat Them TV campaign has reached over 46 million people; our schools’ programme is in 1,500 primaries and our social media campaign to champion seasonal vegetables has reached 11 million people. More kids are seeing vegetables as fun, and children, their parents, schools, and retailers are all reporting a direct increase in sales and consumption.

 The sheer scale and high quality of this work is a testament to the immense support for our mission and the dedication and skill of our team. Now that team needs your support. For this to continue, as it must if we are to secure lasting change, then we need reliable core funding to support our work. We know that money is tight in the horticulture sector, so we are asking all the larger companies from growers to retailers and the companies who supply them to subscribe to Veg Power at a cost of £12,000 per year. We are going to ensure that your support will be rewarded.

Support from the whole supply chain will ensure increased sales for the entire vegetable category. Our Chief Executive, Dan Parker, has set out our vision for Veg Power, our work to date, and how we will continue and increase our impact. In consultation with industry partners we have created a series of direct business benefits available only to our supporters which will give you an edge as the market grows.

 Three great challenges of our time, climate change, Brexit and the clear link between dietary health and Covid-19 share the simple vegetable as part of their solution. We have an outstanding team, an influential board and a huge network of supporters who stand ready to capitalise on

these trends. I urge you not to miss this opportunity.

Baroness Rosie Boycott

Chair Veg Power campaign

 The Veg Power team has mailed the prospectus to around 400 businesses across the fresh produce industry. The mix of businesses includes growers, retailers, suppliers, processors, in short anybody with a connection to the fresh produce industry and with an interest in promoting the consumption of vegetables.

We know the number of people involved in the industry is much greater than 400; so if you weren’t on the Veg Power mailing list but would like a copy of the prospectus or want to know more about the campaign, please get in touch with Dan Parker, CEO of the Veg Power campaign. His email is dan.parker@vegpower.org.uk

The UK to host III International Symposium on Carrot and other Apiaceae

By Company News

The UK has successfully won the bid to host the ISHS International Symposium on Carrot and other Apiaceae in 2021.

The third event of its kind will take place in the historic city of York, close to one of the main carrot growing areas, and will attract delegates from across the globe. British Growers Association tendered to host the Symposium on behalf of the International Society for Horticultural Science (ISHS), with support from Warwick University and Elsoms.

“We are very pleased that the UK has been given the opportunity to host this prestigious event, the event will be one not to be missed. We will have the platform to showcase the fantastic research that our Universities, Research Organisations and growers are involved in”

Jack Ward, CEO British Growers Association

The event will be held over 4 days, starting on Monday 4th October and finishing on Thursday 7th October 2021. The Symposium will involve a series of symposium sessions and seminars held at the York Racecourse, a Gala dinner held in the historic York Railway Museum and the opportunity to visit the British Carrot Growers Association and the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) Demonstration Day.

The 2021 Symposium will bring together the most recent scientific findings and technical advances to the Carrot and Apiaceae community. The Scientific Committee, led by Rosemary Collier of Warwick University, will shape the programme of events for the 2 days of seminars.

“Our UK Symposium will build on the excellent precedents set by the two very successful previous Symposia in Poland and France.  It’s an exciting opportunity to focus on a family of crops that have a key role in international diets and cuisine and to interact with experts on technical and scientific issues.  The historical city of York has many attractions for visitors and is a great venue for the Symposium.”

Professor Rosemary Collier, Warwick University

British Growers are pleased to announce that the platinum symposium sponsors of the 2021 Symposium will be Elsoms and Bejo.

“Elsoms and Bejo are delighted to be the lead sponsors of the 3rd International Apiaceae (carrot) symposium and we are thrilled that it is being held in the UK. This event is a great opportunity for all those involved in these crops to meet up, network and hear about activities, both practical, near market, and, more strategic and far reaching, from around the world.

The UK is a fantastic place to hold this event. High product specifications and the year-round supply demands from the market place ensure that crop quality is key with production being driven by technology in the field and packhouse: UK producers are amongst the leaders in the world. The UK also has a strong voice in horticulture science and technology, with internationally recognised research institutes such as Warwick University, the internationally renowned Wellesbourne genetics resources and the plethora of outstanding UK research establishments, all of whom contribute to adoption of sciences into the industry for its continued success”

Robin Wood, Deputy Chairman, Elsoms

The Symposium visitors will have the opportunity to visit the British Carrot Growers Association and AHDB Demonstration Day. A long running successful event that showcases the best in new varieties from the UK and across the world.

Despite the current restrictions in the UK surround covid-19, the 2021 symposium at this stage is still going ahead. Sponsorship and Exhibition opportunities are available on the website or by emailing Info@carrotsymposium.com. Ticket sales will be available from the website www.carrotsymposium.com. To find out more, please contact the British Growers office on 01507 602427 or Info@carrotsymposium.com

 

       

British Growers News Update: COVID Winter Guidance

By Company News

COVID Winter Response Guidance for Food, Horticulture and Agriculture

 

Information on the next phase of the COVID 19 pandemic is starting to emerge and there is every indication that the autumn and winter could be as challenging as the last 6 months.

 

British Growers has agreed to join a collaboration of retailers, suppliers and industry experts to work with government and public health officials to provide information and guidance for growers about managing the COVID 19 pandemic through the autumn and winter. The project will deliver free access to pragmatic guidance, tools, webinars and regular updates through the winter period.

 

This initiative is designed to complement the latest government information by providing practical step by step information on how businesses can manage different situations by sharing real life experiences, policies and procedures and by signposting to relevant information and guidance.

 

The guidance will take businesses through the practical steps needed to comply with the government and public health guidance and to manage:

 

  • COVID on a day to day basis at the site level
  • Virus outbreaks
  • Track & Trace (as per devolved governments)
  • Serious illness and death of workers from COVID on site
  • Managing Return to Work
  • All regulatory bodies relevant – HSE, PHE, PHW, PHS, PHNI, Directors of Public Health, Local Council Teams in Public Health, Track and Trace (as per devolved governments)
  • Engagement with customers
  • Direct feedback from workers on their perspective on the COVID crisis and working through the crisis

 

 

There will be a special COVID 19 Winter Response event for growers, farmers and packhouses on 16th September 2020 – 11am – 1pm. To participate in the event please follow this link.

New Client at British Growers

By Company News

We are extremely proud to announce that International Plant Propagators Society (Europe) has chosen to join British Growers for the provision of their business services.

Starting in North America in the 1950s, IPPS has had a regional branch in Europe since 1968 when the Great Britain and Ireland Region began. A Scandinavian Region followed in 1992. The two later merged and became IPPS European Region in 2014 and have members now in most European countries.

IPPS is now a global network of plant production professionals, with over 1600 members and in all sectors of plant production, from primary producers to research professionals. Their motto is to “seek and share” information with likeminded professionals and aims to improve the knowledge, skills and professionalism of its members. The network puts members in touch with people working in plant production, research, botanic gardens and education in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Southern Africa and North America; and their unique archive of technical presentations at conferences in all their regional branches, going back more than 50 years, is available to all members.

Please click the link to discover more about IPPS.

Tim Lawrance-Owen from IPPS Europe and an IPPS International Board Director commented on joining British Growers:

“The European Region of the IPPS (International Plant Propagators’ Society) who join to seek and share plant production knowledge worldwide, was seeking to appoint a new Secretary to administer their affairs. Historically one person has undertaken this, with Board members giving their time to help. British Growers Association was recommended to us as having all the facilities required led by a team of experts in administration, finance and communication. The transition to British Growers has been a pleasure facilitated by the team allocated to us. The contact has been very friendly, helpful and understanding, all done under ‘lockdown’. We are relieved to know that the British Growers has the capacity to help us for many years, giving much needed continuity! “

And at British Growers Pauline Sutton, Crop Association Executive, remarked:
“I am absolutely delighted to have been given the opportunity to work with IPPS as their Client Manager. It has been a pleasure engaging with Tim and his colleagues during the transition and look forward to a prosperous relationship.”

British Growers News Update: National Food Strategy

By Company News

The National Food Strategy

In October 2019 British Growers submitted evidence to the National Food Strategy. Part One of the strategy was published at the end of July and the following is a very brief summary of the key points.

The actual report extends to 86 pages and can be accessed through this link

The National Food Strategy – Part One

Our food system has just endured its biggest stress test since the Second World War. As COVID-19 swept through the UK, the entire machinery of supply and distribution had to be recalibrated, fast. The fact that, after a wobbly start, there were no serious food shortages is a testament to the flexibility and entrepreneurialism of so many food businesses, and the resilience of the food system.

The report’s recommendations cover 2 main themes:

1 Making sure a generation of our most disadvantaged children do not get left behind.

The key recommendation here is an expansion of the eligibility for the Free School Meal scheme to include every child (up to the age of 16) from a household where the parent or guardian is in receipt of Universal Credit (or equivalent benefits).

There is an interesting potential spin off for the fresh produce sector here. At the end of July, the CEOs of the Co-op and Waitrose agreed, in principle, to supplement the Healthy Start voucher scheme with additional free fruit and vegetables. Most of the other major supermarkets and convenience stores are keen to follow suit.

2 Determining our future trading relationships and grasping the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to decide what kind of trading nation we want to be.

The report recognises that UK farmers and food producers have some of the highest environmental and animal welfare standards in the world. And accepts the justifiable concern about opening up UK markets to cheaper, low-standard imports which would undercut UK producers and make a nonsense of our progressive farming policies.

The introduction of a new and enlightened agricultural system here in the UK will only work if future trading arrangements reflect the same values. Otherwise, businesses and consumers may simply replace food produced in this country to high ethical standards with cheaper imported food produced at lower standards. This would make the whole future farming programme a charade.

The report recommends that the Government should only agree to cut tariffs in new trade deals on products which meet our core standards.

The Government should establish verification programmes – along the lines of those currently operated by the US Department of Agriculture to enable American farmers to sell non-hormone-treated beef to the EU – so that producers wishing to sell into the UK market can, and must, prove they meet these minimum standards.

These certification schemes should not only cover animal welfare but also environmental and climate protections where the impact of a particular product is severe.

Using similar mechanisms to the US, it would be possible, wherever the two sets of standards diverge significantly, to create tailored certification systems to ensure that food imports into this country meet the same standards we set for the UK’s domestic products.

What is still to come?

“The way we produce our food is the mother of all sustainability issues”.

Part Two of this report will cover the history and effects of the ‘Green Revolution’ which heralded the dawn of modern intensive farming and using selectively bred crops alongside fertilisers, pesticides and advanced farm machinery to massively increase the amount of food that could be produced from the land.

What began as a response to the threat of starvation is now considered disastrous for the environment. The global food system is responsible for an estimated 20-30% of total greenhouse gas emissions. It occupies half the world’s habitable land, uses 70% of the freshwater we consume, causes three quarters of all water pollution, and is the single biggest contributor to biodiversity loss.

Th second part of the strategy will also look at the issue of self-sufficiency and ask if there an optimal percentage number that we should be targeting, whether in aggregate or varying across the seasons and for different foodstuffs?

The basic premise is that things should be produced where they cost the least. But we need to understand these costs not just in terms of pounds, euros or dollars, but in terms of carbon emissions, biodiversity losses or the exhaustion of scarce water resources.

Part 2 of the strategy will be published in 2021.

 

British Growers

British Growers Association is a grower owned, grower led, not for profit umbrella group comprising a range of organisations operating in the UK horticulture industry and fresh produce sector. The membership includes Crop Associations, Producer Organisations, marketing groups and professional membership groups.

If you would like to discuss any aspect of this newsletter or would like to learn more, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

 

Jack Ward                         Chief Executive                                07799 75778

Lisa Eagles                        Operations Director                        07909 331907

Coral Russell                     Crop Association Executive             07881 295616

Pauline Sutton                  Crop Association Executive             07990 010437

British Growers News Update: Government’s Obesity Strategy

By Company News

National Food Strategy Part One

 

Part one of the National Food Strategy independent review, led by Henry Dimbleby has been published. The report – a response to COVID-19 – will look at what the crisis has revealed in our food system, and how it has changed it. It will set out both some principles for recovery and some immediate actions that they think government should take. The report will focus on some key themes: poverty, heath, food security and trade.

Full details of this report.

 

Government’s Obesity Strategy

The governments new obesity strategy was unveiled on 27th July as the country is urged to lose weight to beat the coronavirus and protect the NHS.

A raft of measures have been revealed as part of the government’s new obesity strategy to get the nation fit and healthy. Full details of this report can be found by clicking this link.

The strategy outlines a new package of measures and ‘Better Health’ campaign to help people lose weight, including: –

  • Ban on TV and online adverts for food high in fat, sugar and salt before 9pm
  • End of deals like ‘buy one get one free’ on unhealthy food high in salt, sugar and fat
  • Calories to be displayed on menus to help people make healthier choices when eating out – while alcoholic drinks could soon have to list hidden ‘liquid calories’
  • New campaign to help people lose weight, get active and eat better after COVID-19 ‘wake-up call’

 

Veg Power

 

The Veg Power campaign has now reached 11 million people via social media. The DEFRA funded Seasonal Veg campaign is now in its last week (w/c 27th July). The latest report from the campaign has been sent with the newsletter.

Going forward Veg Power will keep featuring seasonal veg each week and will continue momentum behind the hashtag (#SeasonalVeg)

Anyone who would like to support the campaign with content or on social media please email Dan Parker.

 

Fruit and Veg for Children

 

Health campaigners are celebrating after securing the government’s word to reinstate the School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme in September. The scheme provides free fruit and veg to Reception and Year One pupils.

 

Covent Garden

 

All customers and visitors to New Covent Garden Market will be required to wear a face mask or covering from Friday, 24 July. Face coverings will need to be worn in any indoor area, including the Flower Market and Buyers’ Walk in the Fruit and Vegetable Market.

This change is being introduced to protect everyone who works at or visits the market and is in line with recently updated government guidance.

 

Veg sales up

 

Waitrose has predicted a bumper summer for vegan and vegetarian food sales in a further boost to the fresh produce category.

The supermarket said it has seen vegan and veggie barbecue food sales soar by 80 per cent in preparation for the anticipated heatwave this weekend.

Waitrose expects to sell more meat-free barbecue products than ever before this summer and has already seen searches for ‘Vegan BBQ’ on Waitrose.com increase by 26 per cent in the last month. This coupled with the increase in searches of ‘Vegetarian BBQ’ by 32 per cent, highlights the continued rise in the UK’s appetite for plant-based produce, according to the retailer.

Among the products in strong growth, sales of Vegan Spanish Style Whirls are up by 80, per cent, Vegan Mushroom & Leek Bangers are up 157 per cent and Vegan Jackfruit Burgers have risen 17 per cent within the last year.

Sales of large veg, ideal for grills and barbecues, such as corn on the cob and flat mushrooms, have also seen spectacular increases, with sales soaring by 163 and 111 per cent respectively. Courgettes have also risen by 129 per cent and broccoli is up 128 per cent as shoppers look to get plenty of greens on the grill.

 

Immigration rules

Last week, the Home Office published further details on the UK’s Points-Based Immigration System. The document builds on the Policy Statement which was published in February by providing more detail to applicants, employers and educational institutions on the draft requirements and conditions underpinning the key immigration routes in the Points-Based System. For more information visit

 

Greening

The UK government plans to simplify the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and cut red tape faced by farmers during the agricultural transition period. This follows from EU delivered Farmers will have a reduced administrative burden and will no longer have to comply with the so-called greening requirements with effect from the 2021 scheme year.

These changes will not affect the overall payment received by each farmer as the money will instead be added to farmers’ entitlements under the Basic Payment Scheme.

The agricultural transition period will last for seven years and see Direct Payments to farmers in England phased out and replaced with a new system that rewards farmers for delivering public goods, such as tree or hedge planting, river management to mitigate flooding, or creating or restoring habitats for wildlife. The new Environmental Land Management scheme (ELMS) is expected to be rolled out in late 2024.

 

British Growers

British Growers Association is a grower owned, grower led, not for profit umbrella group comprising a range of organisations operating in the UK horticulture industry and fresh produce sector. The membership includes Crop Associations, Producer Organisations, marketing groups and professional membership groups.

If you would like to discuss any aspect of this newsletter or would like to learn more, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Jack Ward                           Chief Executive                                 07799 75778

Lisa Eagles                          Operations Director                         07909 331907

Coral Russell                       Crop Association Executive             07881 295616

Pauline Sutton                    Crop Association Executive             07990 010437

British Growers News Update: FareShare

By Company News

COVID 19 Outbreak

The press has widely reported an outbreak of COVID 19 on a farm in the West Midlands. British Growers has been in touch with Defra about the outbreak. Public Health England supported by other agencies is conducting a detailed investigation. This investigation will also take on board any relevant outcomes from the recent outbreak at a meat processing plant. The authorities are keen to understand if there are any lessons to be learned and whether the current guidance for food producers needs to updated.

In the meantime the recommendation is to rely on the current guidance which can be found on the AHDB website

Further advice on the actions to take where there is outbreak of COVID-19 on farm and a local lockdown is available from the NFU

This is the first major COVID incident involving a UK farm. It is worth noting that there have been outbreaks on fresh produce operations in Spain near the city of Lleida. Of the 14 recent outbreaks in the region and ten have been traced to infections among seasonal fruit pickers.

These incidents highlight the dangers which COVID 19 still presents despite the gradual lifting of the restrictions for the general population.

 

Are you interested in shaping the new Environmental Land Management Scheme for the benefit of the fresh produce sector?

Would you like the industry to be rewarded for actions which benefit the environment?

Do you have creative ideas for how a payment scheme would make sustainable horticulture worthwhile?

This is your chance to help shape the way environmental good practice is rewarded by Defra in the future.

Defra has given the sector an opportunity to design and test how a horticulturally orientated land management scheme could run, starting in July 2020. This will be part of their Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS) Tests and Trials programme. Over the next fifteen months, a specialist group will be working with growers from to decide how best to operate a new scheme.

The group is looking for large, medium and small-scale fruit and vegetable growers and protected edible producers. The group is looking for a blend of growers including those with limited experience of environmental issues and those with a long history of taking environmental action in their business.

Participating growers will be paid £150/day, for 3-7 days of involvement with the testing methods. This will include giving feedback and comparing different ways of receiving advice. Participants will also have input into the development of the new payment scheme that will replace BPS.

The overall aim of the trial is to develop the best and most appropriate way to reward fruit and vegetable producers who are already growing in ways which benefit the environment and encourage all growers to further improve their environmental land management.

If anyone is interested and wants more information, please get in touch with jack.ward@britishgrowers.org and we can provide more information about what is involved.

 

FareShare

FareShare is the UK’s largest food redistribution charity, taking edible surplus food from more than 600 food businesses, including major brands and retailers, and redistributing it to vulnerable people through a UK-wide network of 11,000 frontline charities.

The FareShare Surplus with Purpose Fund – available to all food suppliers and growers – aims to offset additional costs incurred by companies when diverting their edible surplus food to charities and community groups. The fund is open to new companies, as well as companies which already work with FareShare. The Fund can be used to unlock harder to reach surplus food, or surplus food that’s further up the supply chain. So far, the Fund has assisted organisations from farms to manufacturers – to redistribute 4,447 additional tonnes of food – enough to provide 10,589,378 meals. Companies could be eligible for grants of up to £50,000. This could be used to cover: additional staff costs needed for packing and sorting, building, implementing and managing new processes, packaging and transportation costs, or lost income from the sale of surplus to animal feed or anaerobic digestion.

Find out more: www.fareshare.org.uk/surplus , contact FareShare on 020 7064 8911 foodoffers@fareshare.org.uk

British Growers News Update: Covid 19

By Company News, Industry News

Govt COVID recovery strategy

This is quite a long read and there is not much which is specific to fresh produce, but it is quite interesting and provides some useful background. Covid recovery strategy.

 

Quarantine arrangements for International travellers

This is the statement from Govt about international travellers:

The Government will require all international arrivals not on a short list of exemptions to self-isolate in their accommodation for fourteen days on arrival into the UK. Where international travellers are unable to demonstrate where they would self-isolate, they will be required to do so in accommodation arranged by the Government. The Government is working closely with the devolved administrations to coordinate implementation across the UK.

Small exemptions to these measures will be in place to provide for continued security of supply into the UK and so as not to impede work supporting national security or critical infrastructure and to meet the UK’s international obligations. All journeys within the Common Travel Area will also be exempt from these measures.

These international travel measures will not come into force on 13th May but will be introduced as soon as possible. Further details, and guidance, will be set out shortly, and the measures and list of exemptions will be kept under regular review.

Defra is aware of the issue surrounding seasonal workers and a range of other international arrivals into the UK that are critical to the effective functioning of the food sector. We are expecting the list of exemptions to be published shortly.

 

Updated travel advice

One of the many challenges facing growers is the transport of growers to and from site. The Govt has recently updated its advice, there is a specific section on the use of private cars and other vehicles.

 

Guidance for construction and outdoor workers

The Govt. advice for outdoor workers has been updated.

 

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (Furlough) extended

The Chancellor has confirmed that the Job Retention Scheme will be extended for 4 months until the end of October. From now until the end of July there will be no changes to the current scheme. From August, there will be greater flexibility for employers having the opportunity to part time furlough which will help to support the transition back to work. Between August and October, employers will share the cost of the 80% furloughed salary with government. Further details regarding implementation of this scheme will be announced by the end of May.

 

Seasonal labour – Call for Evidence

On 13th May the Migration Advisory Committee launched a 6 week call for evidence focussed on a review of the shortage occupation lists. Sectors are recommended to share their recruitment experiences with the Committee, and these will inform the recommendations when it reports to the Home Secretary in September 2020. The Committee acknowledges the extra pressures businesses are under as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak and this will be reflected in the final report.

Further information here.

 

Veg Power seasonal veg campaign

As a result of a chance conversation with someone in Defra, Veg Power has been commissioned to promote the purchase and consumption of in-season vegetables using social media, web and PR. The campaign will launch in late May and run for 2 months, and possibly beyond. Veg Power will be mobilising a network of chef’s, nutritionists, food writers, supermarkets and media outlets to champion in-season vegetables. As part of the campaign, Veg Power is keen to push growers to the fore, to tell the story of how vegetables get to store and build excitement.

The range of crops they are looking to promote includes:

Asparagus

Cucumbers

Mushrooms

Salad Leaves

Courgettes

Tomatoes

Beetroot.

The promotion is due to begin in late May and run through to July.

… a bit more from the Veg Power campaign

If UK diets hit current recommendations for veg, it’s estimated that we could see:

21,000 premature deaths avoided every year [GBD, 2017]

84% growth of the UK horticultural sector [Food Foundation, 2020]

March was the biggest month EVER for grocery sales

Retailers benefit, with 22% sales growth w/e March 22nd

Boost for convenience and independent stores (30% growth) and veg boxes schemes (111% growth)

 

What did we buy during lockdown?

 

 

 

Where did we buy it from?

 

British Growers News Update: Covid 19

By Company News, Industry News

Support during the Coronavirus outbreak – CBILS and farming businesses

 

Background

On the 3rd April the Government announced extensions to the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), which was originally launched on the 23rd March as part of a package of measures to support businesses hit by Coronavirus. This means that all viable small businesses affected by Coronavirus, and not just those viable businesses unable to secure regular commercial financing, will now be eligible if the lender believes they will need finance to see them through these unprecedented times. This means many more farming businesses are now eligible to take part in the scheme.

 What is the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme?

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) supports viable small and medium-sized businesses experiencing difficulties as a result of the coronavirus outbreak to access finance, if external finance is the right answer.

The scheme helps all viable UK-based businesses with an annual turnover of up to £45 million, to access loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million for up to 6 years.

The government will also make a Business Interruption Payment (BIP) to cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied fees. This means smaller businesses will benefit from no upfront costs and lower initial repayments.

By providing an 80% government guarantee on eligible lending, this scheme gives over 40 lenders the confidence to keep lending to viable businesses that have been affected by the Coronavirus outbreak but are facing significant cash-flow difficulties in the short-term.

No lender can take a personal guarantee for a loan of less than £250,000 that is supported by the CBILS.

Over 40 accredited lenders provide loans supported by the scheme, including all the major banks.

Farming businesses

The agricultural sector has the same eligibility criteria as all of the other sectors within the CBILS eligibility criteria. An SME operating within the agricultural sector does not have to prove their eligibility in any different way to an SME operating in other sectors e.g. retail or manufacturing.

The maximum value of lending that can be delivered to an SME operating in the agricultural sector is the same as for any other sector i.e. £5m up to 6 years for term loans and asset finance, and 3 years for revolving credit and invoice finance.

The only difference relates to the level of the BIP (to cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied fees) an agricultural SME can receive; this is restricted to a maximum of €100,000.

Do any other payments received reduce the amount of BIP that can be offered to farm businesses through CBILS?

Certain payments you receive may count towards the amount of BIP. In this instance, these payments are made under the Temporary Framework for State aid measures to support the economy in the current Coronavirus outbreak. Other payments such as the Basic Payments Scheme, the Rural Development Programme for England, or those received as Agricultural de-minimis will not affect the value of BIP that can be made.

How do farm businesses apply for a CBILS loan?

In the first instance farming businesses should contact their usual finance provider. Following expansion of the scheme farming businesses should consider re-contacting their lender if they have previously been unsuccessful in securing finance, as they may now be eligible. Businesses may also consider approaching one of the other 40 accredited lenders if they have been unable to access the finance they need through their own bank.

UK Finance have issued a statement on behalf of the sector which announced that banks, building societies and credit card providers are committed to supporting their business customers in continuing to trade, and would encourage businesses to speak to their lender if they need finance.

What about larger businesses?

The new Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) will provide a government guarantee of 80% to enable banks to make loans of up to £25 million to firms with an annual turnover of between £45 million and £250 million. For firms with a turnover of more than £250 million the maximum loan is £50 million.

This will give banks the confidence to lend to more businesses which are impacted by coronavirus but which they would not lend to without CLBILS. Loans backed by a guarantee under CLBILS will be offered at commercial rates of interest.

Bounce Back Loan

The Bounce Back Loan scheme will launch on the 4th May 2020 and will help small and medium sized businesses to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000. The government will guarantee 100% of the loan and there won’t be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months.

Loan terms will be up to 6 years with no repayments due during the first 12 months. The government will work with lenders to agree a low rate of interest for the remaining period of the loan. The scheme will be delivered through a network of accredited lenders. We will circulate further details about the scheme as they become available.

For further information visit GOV.UK or email agritrade@defra.gov.uk.

 

 

Government recovery strategy

A recent unofficial report suggests that seven guidance documents have been drawn up by cabinet office minister Michael Gove and business secretary Alok Sharma, and these will form the basis for the government’s proposals to get people back to work in the coming weeks. The documents cover workers in seven different settings: hotel and restaurant staff; those who work in other people’s homes; factory workers; people working outdoors; people working in vehicles; shop workers; and office workers.

Businesses with more than five employees must produce a written risk assessment of working conditions for their staff if they wish to reopen during the pandemic. But even after the first relaxation of some lockdown measures, expected to be announced by Boris Johnson on Sunday, it will remain the case that those who can work from home must continue to do so.

 

 

Important announcement on changes to the deadline for the BPS scheme

2020 claim deadline extended to 15 June 2020

The government has confirmed that the deadline for 2020 Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) applications, Countryside Stewardship (CS) revenue claims, Environmental Stewardship (ES) claims, and woodland legacy revenue claims, without penalty, is extended by one month to midnight on 15 June 2020, in recognition of the disruption caused by coronavirus (COVID-19).

The period for making amendments without penalty is extended to midnight on 30 June 2020.

The final deadline, with penalty, is extended to midnight on 10 July 2020.

 

Seasonal Workers update

Pick for Britain website has launched. The website is a joint public sector and industry initiative to bring together those who are looking for work on UK farms over the harvest period with recruiters who have roles to fill. The website will act as a central hub to signpost people to the jobs available and to provide information about this type of work.

 

Important announcement for RPA inspections

The RPA have been looking at ways of moving forward in relation to claims inspections whilst the current Government restrictions are in place. As all inspections visits to customers’ own premises have been cancelled, the RPA and DEFRA have put in place a number of options to complete the inspections remotely.

The options are: –

  • PO’s email documents to their RPA inspector.
  • Where documents cannot be emailed, the PO should contact their inspector for an address to post the documentation either by tracked post or with a reputable courier.
  • Where there are specific systems such as payroll, which cannot be downloaded, the RPA can view these remotely with the PO via Microsoft Teams.
  • Provide the inspector with access to your PO’s cloud through they could view data normally seen on site

As a last resort, the RPA will consider a limited inspection visit with full social distancing.

It is important to note that all these options apply to both annual 2019 claims where inspections were not completed prior to the lockdown as well as any arrears/interim claims for the 2020 operational programmes.

British Growers News Update: Covid 19

By Company News, Industry News

Testing

Testing for COVID-19 is being extended to include additional frontline workers who are symptomatic, and members of their household who are symptomatic. This will allow frontline workers to return to work if they, or members of their household, test negative for coronavirus.

The definition of front-line workers includes the following

Critical personnel in the production and distribution of food, drink and essential goods, including those involved in food production, processing, distribution, sale and deliver.

There will be two testing options:

Testing at one of the national drive-through centres which are currently being expanded in capacity and location; and

Home testing kits for those employees unable to travel to testing centres which will be delivered via Amazon courier.

Please note that these arrangements currently only relate to testing in England and we are seeking clarity on Scotland and Wales. Follow the link for further information .

 

 

Pick for Britain

After the soft launch of the pick for Britain campaign, the Secretary of State has officially launched

the scheme. We have attached the official communication from George Eustice for information.

Further details about the scheme can be found at the site

 

 Industry guidance

AHDB have been working on several hubs, collating the relevant government guidance for growers to refer to:

Coronavirus: advice for farmers and growers (section on seasonal labour for horticulture)

Best practices to avoid the spread of coronavirus for seasonal workers on fruit and vegetable farms

 

PPE in the food sector

We are working closely with the Food and Drink Federation on a range of food industry related issues. One of these is the availability of PPE. The FDF has set up a small working group to look at PPE issues as they affect the food sector. This is a short summary of the position to date:

Maintaining food production needs PPE

During this crisis there has been a significant increase in demand for PPE that has led to availability issues in food sectors

Healthcare sectors must be the national priority for PPE provision, but there is a clear policy and political argument that food production, as an essential sector supporting the national effort, is worthy of PPE prioritisation

are asking government colleagues and politicians to prioritise availability of PPE for essential roles in the food sector

The food sectors listed below collectively need around 200,000 FFP2/FFP3 face masks every week for regular jobs within their supply chains

We are committed to working with and supporting the PPE manufacture and distribution supply chain and recognise their efforts to assist food production

Letter from M&S                                                      

We have received the attached letter from Stuart Machin M&S Managing Director for Food, addressed to Minette Batters President of the NFU and agreed to circulate it with this newsletter.

 

Stay safe in these difficult times.

 

British Growers Team