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Seasonal Veg Campaign

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SEASONAL VEG CAMPAIGN – PLEASE HELP


With schools, restaurants, and hotels closed good local seasonal vegetables destined for the food services sector is currently going to waste while other veg is in short supply or being imported.
Veg Power has been asked by the Cabinet Office and DEFRA to mobilise an army of food writers, chefs, nutritionists, and other food system influencers to advocate seasonal veg on their blogs, tweets and press activities.
Collectively that network of influencers will reach millions of UK shoppers, and by unifying the message around a simple hashtag (#SeasonalVeg) we can swing people’s choice towards the wonderful veg coming into season, support the frontline food heroes working hard to bring their crops to our tables and save tonnes of good food going to waste.
Seasonal Vegetables
The campaign will encourage all seasonal veg, but we have found that by having a hero veg each week we keep the campaign fresh and the support keeps rolling on. So, for this campaign:


What are we asking you to do?


We are keen to tell the story of these vegetables, to bring the fork a little closer to the farm and recognise the dedication growers are showing in these difficult times. We keen to share images from your farms – the first of the crops coming up for harvest and heading off to our stores, the people, the farms and the produce. We are trying to connect our audience to their food, to feel the passion and quality of in-season British vegetables.
• We keen to coordinate our efforts with relevant crop associations
• Collaborate to support any marketing you have planned
• Find one or two growers for each crop who can help us with a few pictures and stories
Please get in touch: Dan Parker, dan.parker@vegpower.org.uk 07801 550699

British Growers News Update: Pick For Britain

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Seasonal Workers ‘Pick for Britain’ campaign

Launch of new Pick for Britain Portal

 British Growers has been working with several industry stakeholders to ensure that growers have the seasonal workers they need to harvest fruit and vegetables over the coming months. We wanted to let you know that a new website was launched today to support this effort. This is a joint Defra 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.

The website will have links to the government ‘Find A Job’ portal to enable individuals to search for jobs by type and location. The aim is also to provide links to a wide range of recruitment campaigns organised by labour providers. The website is hosted by AHDB and has been developed by AHDB, NFU, British Growers, ALP and Defra. More information will be added to the website over the coming weeks.

We’re recommending that growers post seasonal worker vacancies on to the DWP ‘Find A Job’ website, which will ensure a wide reach of potential applicants – including those people who are looking for work as a result of COVID-19 related redundancies or furloughing. The Find a Job website has more than 1.6 million registered users.

The launch of the hub is the first initiative Defra is launching to support growers in bringing home the harvest of 2020. The employment situation is likely to be very fluid and subject to considerable change as the season progresses. Defra is very keen to work with the industry to address the seasonal labour issues and will continue to monitor take up of seasonal roles and evaluate the success of the hub and other supporting initiatives.

Link to the hub: PICK FOR BRITAIN

 

 

British Growers News Update: Message from George Eustice

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Message from George Eustice, Secretary of State Defra

 

“To those working hard to feed the nation,

In the face of what is perhaps the greatest health challenge this country has faced in our lifetime, I want to pay tribute to all those who are working around the clock to keep the nation fed – in our fields, processing plants, factories, wholesalers, stores and takeaways and all of those moving goods around the country and to our homes.”

The full text of the letter can be seen here

 

Furloughed workers

The government has updated the guidance on furloughed workers to allow them to take up other employment. This is the advice from the Job Centre Plus website.

If your contract allows, you may undertake other employment while your current employer has placed you on furlough, and this will not affect the grant that they can claim under the scheme. You will need to be able to return to work for the employer that has placed you on furlough if they decide to stop furloughing you, and you must be able to undertake any training they require while on furlough. If you take on new employment, you should make sure you complete the starter checklist form with your new employer correctly. If you are furloughed from another employment, you should complete Statement C. Any activities undertaken while on furlough must be in line with the latest Public Health guidance during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Full details including the link to the starter check list can be found here.

 

Operating Guidance for Social Distancing and Other Safety Measures Covering Farm Situations

We have had several calls from growers looking for guidance on how to manage social distancing and other measures designed to ensure the safety of their staff. We have been in touch with Defra about the need for guidance at this level and the issue is under consideration.

The PHE guidance for businesses is being continually updated so it worth checking the site for the latest updates. Here is the link to their site

 

Competition Legislation

On Friday 27 March the Government introduced a temporary relaxation to Competition Law to enable grocery retailers, their suppliers (directly or indirectly) and logistic services to work together for the sole purpose of feeding the nation during these unprecedented circumstances.

Businesses from other areas of food supply that would not normally supply to retailers but now wish to do so to support the coronavirus response may also seek to work together and with retailers to increase the supply of groceries to consumers. More information about the changes on Competition legislation can be found here.

 

Routes to Market

With the closure of the restaurant and hospitality trade, there is an amount of surplus product looking for a home. We have posted a list of box schemes and home delivery businesses on the British Growers website.

In addition, several national initiatives are underway to divert supplies which might have gone to the out-of-home food industry to alternative outlets.

Feeding the nation is one example. This is being led by John Vincent, co-founder of LEON. The plan is to divert food originally destined for the out-of-home market direct to the public, via a website which acts as an on-line marketplace where the public can buy from suppliers. There will be a 1-2% commission which will be used to fund and initiative involving LEON and NHS Workers. We expect more details to be made available shortly.

 

Fresh Produce Consortium – OnYourDoorstop/shop

 

In order to help keep the fresh produce supply chain moving the Fresh Produce Consortium has launched a new online platform which matches suppliers with consumers. OnYourDoorstep has been set up to provide a free of charge service for suppliers of fresh produce in a move to connect them with customers in their local area. “The FPC is encouraging local suppliers across the UK to sign up and take advantage of this valuable free service where we can connect them with local customers” said the Fresh Produce Consortium’s Chief Executive, Nigel Jenney.

For further details please go to the website.

 

British Summer Fruits Limited- Recruitment Campaign

The British Berry Industry have launched their own platform to publicise their members job opportunities, this is shown on an interactive map showing where work can be found across the UK, this is featured on their website here.

They have also diverted spend from their ongoing consumer led PR activity to their recruitment campaign. Follow their twitter campaign here.

Other crop associations have also taken a similar route, British Apples and Pears and the Asparagus Growers Association.

 

Stay safe in these difficult times.

 

British Growers Team

British Growers News Update: Covid-19

By Industry News, Uncategorized

These are unprecedented times. There are some parallels with the Foot and Mouth crisis in 2001 but multiplied up by a factor of 100. We all recognise that in short space of time the world has become a very different place. And we now face the challenge of learning to adapt in a new and alien environment.

The last few days has raised a multitude of questions, most of which have not been asked before and have no quick and obvious answers. Our aim here are British Growers is to use our extensive network of contacts to raise issues and find solutions. Some solutions may be immediate, and others may take time.  What’s clear from working through the last few days is the there is terrific intent to help and support, but the delivery of specific outcomes may take a little longer.

Recognition of the Importance of Food 

Ironically 4 weeks ago we wondered if the UK was serious about maintaining a food industry. The immigration rules were set to decimate access to the traditional sources of seasonal labour and free trade agreements and the removal of tariff protection were posing a threat to both standards and prices.  Fast forward 4 weeks and how different things look.

Key Workers

This is the definition of key workers:

Food and other necessary goods This includes those involved in food production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery, as well as those essential to the provision of other key goods (for example hygienic and veterinary medicines).

We have been asked by several individuals how far this definition extends up and down the supply chain. Each case needs to be considered on its merits. The movement of people is key in bringing the virus under control and increasingly the focus is fewer people moving rather than more.

Letters confirming key worker status

We have been approached by several organisations asking for help with letters of confirmation for key workers. We now have a template letter, kindly provided by the Food and Drink Federation, which we can supply together with a British Grower logo and the relevant crop association logo.

Covid-19 – Guidance for Food Business 

Public Health England released its advice for food businesses on 25 March. Here is the link to their site. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-food-businesses The document contains useful advice on managing social distancing in the workplace, although doesn’t deal with some of the more specific situations found on farm.

Access to Labour 

There is no doubt that the issue of labour is being taken extremely seriously within Government. Everyone now understands the connection between labour and the continuity of food supplies. There are no easy solutions here.

 But no effort is being spared in exploring options and looking for solutions to ease the problems as we move further into the fresh produce season. Expect to see further announcements on labour in the near future.

ProduceView

Our weekly update on retail prices has had to be adapted to operate in the present circumstances.  We have ceased our weekly visits to stores and for the foreseeable future we will be using data gathered from individual retailer sites. Not every retailer has an online operation but looking at the list that do, the data will cover a significant percentage of the grocery sector.   If anyone did their own in-store price checking and wants to keep in touch with weekly in store pricing, please get in touch and we can set you up on the system.

Fruit and Veg Alliance 

Through our position on the Fruit and Veg Alliance we are pulling together a list of box schemes and other local/ national outlets supplying consumers to their door throughout the UK and using locally grown fresh produce.  Being realistic, these outlets are not going to make up for the loss of major food service contracts but may offer a route to market for smaller quantities of produce. As one of our major customers for fresh produce says – every little bit helps.  Details are available on the British Growers website.

Morrisons

We have been working with Morrisons and our Asparagus Growers offering them an opportunity for locally grown British Asparagus to be available in Morrisons stores, supplying on a direct to store delivery basis.  These local lines replace their ‘national’ British Asparagus in those stores for the growing season.  Last year proved successful and this year more growers are signing up for their locally grown Asparagus to be sold in stores around the country.  This is the perfect opportunity to showcase not only what an amazing product Asparagus is, but also to highlight the locally grown credentials.  British Growers is working with Morrisons to expand this scheme to other crop sectors.

Turfgrass 

Business operating in the turf industry currently sit outside the current guidelines on key workers because they don’t fit the definition of producing food. But as with ornamental and amenity growers, they are a key part of the agricultural industry. There was some confusion after the Prime Minister’s announcement on Monday 23 March about turf farms being forced to close. Until any further changes are announced, the current guidance has reassured members that they can continue to trade providing that social distancing guidance is being adhered to.

We have also been provided with the following guidance from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS): “For security and essential maintenance reasons greens staff can still attend work.”

POs (Producer Organisations)

There are concerns from POs about receipt of payments (both the balance of payments for the 2019 scheme year and interim payments for 2020) given that no physical inspections can be carried out. We have been in touch with Defra and the advice is to continue to submit claims as normal and they will do their best to operate the system in the light of the current constraints. We are working with Defra to see what other measures can be taken to help POs. This includes actions that the UK can take unilaterally, as well as amendments/easements at an EU level (legislation, etc). There will probably be more to report as the days progress, and we all have a better understanding of how best to operate in these changed circumstances.

 

Stay safe in these difficult times.

British Growers Team

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Labour & Immigration 2020

By Industry News, Uncategorized

Labour and Immigration

Summary

On 19 February 2020, the Government announced that from 1 January 2021, the free movement of labour will end and be replaced with the UK’s new points-based immigration system. The new system is designed to provide access to the UK for the most highly skilled workers, skilled workers, students and a range of other specialist work routes. All migrants looking to enter the UK to work or study will need to apply for permission in advance, irrespective of whether they are within the EU or outside the EU.

The mandate

In making the announcement, the Home Secretary Priti Patel said:

Today is a historic moment for the whole country.

We’re ending free movement, taking back control of our borders and delivering on the people’s priorities by introducing a new UK points-based immigration system, which will bring overall migration numbers down.

We will attract the brightest and the best from around the globe, boosting the economy and our communities, and unleash this country’s full potential.

Future requirements

Under the new points threshold system, workers wanting to enter the UK will need to meet several key criteria, including specific skills and the ability to speak English. All applicants will need to have a job offer and a minimum salary of £25,600 (the figure recommended by the Migration Advisory Committee in its recent report.)

Workers looking to live and work in the UK will need to be qualified up to A level or equivalent. This is a step down from an earlier requirement for applicants to hold a degree.

The seasonal workers pilot scheme

Also contained in the announcement is an update to the Seasonal Workers Pilot scheme. This will also be expanded in time for the 2020 harvest from 2,500 to 10,000 places, to meet the specific temporary requirements of the agricultural sector.

Where does this leave the fresh produce sector

In 2016 shortly after the referendum, British Growers conducted a survey which indicated that the requirement for seasonal labour was in the region of 70,000 workers. As things stand following this announcement, we face going into the 2021 season with just 10,000 permits for non-UK workers, a shortfall of around 60,000.

I am working closely with the NFU on the case for increasing the number of permits to a more realistic level and will report on this as things develop over the next few weeks.

We will also need growers to contact their MPs to highlight the impact of this decision on their businesses, other local businesses and the local economy. It is important to highlight that most people coming to the UK for seasonal employment are not looking for residency status and are therefore not adding to the migration statistics.

Settled and pre -settled status

The options of settled and pre-settled status may not be the answer to every situation, but these options provide a route for workers who are currently working in the UK to remain here once the new rules come into force.

Settled and pre settled status applies to EU, EAA and Swiss citizens. The deadline for applications is 30 June 2021

Settled status will normally be granted to those who have lived in the UK for a continuous period of 5 years. The requirement on continuous is that people have been living in the UK for at lease 6 months in any 12-month period. If settled status is granted, people will be eligible to stay in the UK for as long as they like.

People with less that 5 years continuous residency will only be eligible for pre-settled status. To qualify for pre-settled status, an applicant must have started living in the UK before December 2020. After 5 years a person with pre-settled status can apply for settled status.

The rights associated with pre and settled status are the ability to

  • work in the UK
  • use the NHS for free as you do now
  • enrol in education or continue studying
  • access public funds such as benefits and pensions, if you’re eligible for them
  • travel in and out of the UK

Updates

We will continue to keep you updated once we have a better idea of the strategy for increasing the numbers of seasonal workers. This issue is of critical importance to the sector and will be a key priority for British Growers in the weeks and months ahead.

 

Jack Ward

CEO British Growers

February 2020

 

 

 

Peas Please Receives Significant Big Lottery Funding

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EXCITING NEWS

Peas Please Receives Significant Big Lottery Funding

Peas Please announced last week that the National Lottery Community Fund will be supporting the campaign to continue and expand its work to increase vegetable consumption in the UK over the next four years. T. A big thank you to the National Lottery Community Fund. 

As part of its next phase, Peas Please plans to create a new generation of food system agents of change – Veg Advocates – working at a national and community level. These citizen participants will play a key role in helping to ensure that Peas Please pledges deliver meaningful impact.

In the 2.5 years since Peas Please was launched, it has secured 47 pledges of action from businesses operating along the supply chain and commitments from 21 city partnerships. The project has established its monitoring system and published its first Progress Report which showed that 4.8milllion additional portions have already been consumed as a result of Peas Please. The programme also initiated and incubated the Veg Power fund which has just launched a £10m veg advertising campaign, in partnership with ITV, aimed at school children.