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British Growers News Update

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Quick round up

The past few weeks have been dominated by the ongoing impact of the pandemic which is affecting the fresh produce sector in numerous different ways.

Labour availability is even tighter than last year due to a combination of the new immigration rules, a delay in setting up the two new Seasonal Worker permit operators and intense competition for staff from other higher margin industries. We are in conversation with Defra on this issue and in particular the need to confirm an extension to the current Seasonal Worker permit scheme into 2022.

Cost increases in staffing, haulage, packaging, fertiliser and almost everything else is challenging the already slim margins which most growers operate on. The Brassica Growers recently put out a press statement calling for additional support from retailers to assist with these unprecedented and unplanned costs increases. There has been a significant take up of the release including the Sunday Times.

For the past 8 months we have been asking Defra for an extension to the PO funding for POs whose programmes expire in the next couple of years. In time for Fruit Focus, Defra issued a statement stating that funding will continue for the POs with programmes ending in 2021 and 2022 to avoid (in their words) an ‘airgap’ in funding.

National Food strategy

We have been in conversation with the team working on the National Food Strategy regarding future support for the sector. We shared with them several ideas we have been working on which could form the basis of a new look support scheme for the sector. So, it was interesting to see some of our thinking coming through in the final report and recommendations. This is a brief summary of the elements which are possibly of most interest and immediate relevance:

  • Fresh produce is the sector of primary food production where growth most squarely aligns with the national interest.
  • There are clear opportunities for UK growers to secure a greater share of the UK market.
  • One priority for Defra should be fruit and vegetable growing, with its innovation funding becoming a key component of an ambitious growth strategy for fresh produce, developed with the industry.
  • Fruit and vegetable production should be supported by a wider programme of investment to boost horticultural productivity sustainably, creating a less bureaucratic, more inclusive and better funded successor to the previous EU Fruit and Vegetable Regime.
  • Defra should adapt the best elements of the EU scheme, to create a package of investment that aligns more closely with Government, consumer and grower requirements.

The next step is for the Govt to respond to the recommendations, and we expect their response to be published in around six months. The challenge for us is to follow up on the strategy recommendations and move them from recommendation status to tangible measures to support the industry over the next decade.

R&D in the fresh produce sector

We know from our discussions with Defra that the future of R&D for the sector is under active consideration. The problem is … we not very clear what ideas are under active discussion and while the Minister in her presentation to the recent Festival of Fresh conference restated Defra’s intention to honour the outcome of the vote, she wasn’t forthcoming about any options for the future.

In the meantime, the Grower Better Levy Group (which comprises a voluntary group of 36 independent business operating in the horticulture and potato sectors) has been actively working on a future R&D strategy and structure and recently published the following list of asks which have been presented to Victoria Prentis.

  • R&D provision will be competitively tendered for.
  • Key AHDB staff must not be lost from the industry and halted projects deemed vital by the sectors must be completed.
  • The continuation of a small Statutory Levy is necessary to fund critical work.
  • A larger voluntary investment levy will be necessary for agreed programmes of work and growers should have the ability to vote for this by sector on a regular basis.
  • Within crop sectors, voluntary funds will be raised for the whole sector to fund projects that benefit all, or they will be raised on an individual crop basis for crop specific projects. The option will be there to fund longer term projects.
  • To fund programmes of work, crop specific investment funds will be created, accessing investment funds. Tax relief and match funding by Defra should be made available.
  • The overhead costs should not exceed 15% of levies paid.

For further information about the Grower Better Levy Group, go to their page.

The Pingdemic and critical roles

We have had conversations with Defra about including critical harvest roles within the list of roles which fall into the category of reasonable excuses to leave the self-isolation rules.

In mid-July the Govt published a list of roles in sectors covered by Defra’s remit which would qualify as ‘reasonable excuses to leave the isolation rules’, although anyone taking up this option would need to abide by a longish list of other equally stringent requirements instead. Unfortunately, the list does not include any harvest activities or indeed any on farm type activities. I am guessing with the increase in infection rates, the Govt is reluctant to go too far in relaxing the rules in the hope infection rates will continue to fall and their 16 August target of scrapping self-isolation for the double-jabbed who are pinged by the NHS contact tracing app is – to use the words of the Prime Minster – “nailed on”.

 

Download PDF here

BRITISH GROWERS NEWS UPDATE – Free Covid Tests

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The Govt has recognised that the food sector is an essential industry which needs to keep running and is one where workers cannot work from home. Therefore regular, rapid testing is a fundamental tool to prevent Covid outbreaks in the workplace.

 Free testing offer

Businesses of any size, including those with fewer than 50 employees, can sign up for the government’s workplace testing scheme. It will provide lateral flow technology (LFT/LFD) free of charge until 30 June but businesses need to register before 31 March 2021.

By registering you are not committing to testing nor do you need to place an order when you register an interest. Registration provides the opportunity to access government testing models as soon as they become available thus, allowing businesses to assess what will be most appropriate for their situation. Over 48,000 businesses have registered to date.

 How to register for free test kits

To access the free test kits until 30 June 2021, businesses need to register an interest by 31 March 2021.

N.B. This service is currently only available to businesses registered in England.

If your business is registered in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland but you have employees in England, you will need to register by email. Contact p-and-psector@dhsc.gov.uk for more advice.

 Accessing community testing facilities

In addition to registering, businesses with fewer than 50 employees may want to contact their local authority in the first instance to explore the possibility of using the growing number of community testing facilities. All local authorities in England are offering regular testing for those who need to leave home for work. Find out more here.

Addressing agri-tech challenges on an international platform: Dual Membership is your passport to UK’s excellence in agri-tech innovation

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Two of the UK’s leading agri-tech centres, Agri-EPI and CHAP, have joined forces to provide international companies of all sizes with the opportunity to sign up with a dual membership – accessing benefits of both organisations at a discounted rate.

Agricultural Innovation
Agri-EPI and CHAP support the development, evaluation and delivery of technology and data-driven solutions to the challenges faced by the agricultural industry. Dual membership provides access to their state-of-the-art capabilities and support to help businesses reach their full potential.

BOOK YOUR TICKETS HERE

Programme Outline
In this webinar we will hear from representatives from the Department of International Trade, KTN, Agri-EPI and CHAP, in addition to an update on the Ultra Fine Bubbles Project demonstrating the joint R&D capabilities of the agri-tech centres CHAP and Agri-EPI. We then open up the session for a panel discussion with the opportunity to find out how dual international membership will be your passport to UK’s excellence in agri-tech innovation.


Benefits of dual membership
* Do you want to access two of the UK’s leading agri-tech organisations to develop your innovative technologies?
* Do you want access to the UK market to launch your innovative technology?
* Do you think you can make an impact on the UK agri-tech market?
* Do you want to access UK funding, carry out research and test and trial your innovative technology?
* Be a part of the agri-ecosystem of over 200 other companies that span the network of our two organisations
* Growth and development opportunities outside of the UK network

BOOK YOUR TICKETS HERE

Agenda (BST):
12.00pm: Welcome and House keeping – Agri-EPI Membership & Events Manager

12.05pm: UK agri-tech Opportunity – Animal Sciences and Animal Agri-Tech Sector Specialist, Department for International Trade, Sam Hoste

12.15pm: Agri-EPI enabling agri-tech innovation UK and International – Business Development Director, Lisa Williams

12.20: Crop Health and Protection: World leading UK AgriTech capabilities to catalyse global innovative solutions – International Business Development Manager, Dr Jenna Ross

12.25pm: Ultra Fine Bubbles – A presentation on the joint capabilities between the two agri-tech centres and what is possible through working together – CHAP Innovation Sector Lead, Richard Glass

12.35 Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) International funding opportunities – KTN Knowledge Transfer Manager (Plants and Crops), Pedro Carvalho

12.45pm Panel questions
Do you want to set-up a one-to-one meeting, and aren’t able to attend the webinar? Then email either matthew.briggs@chap-solutions.co.uk or annabelle.gardner@agri-epicentre.com

Get your business in front of UK growers

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2020, and into 2021, Covid 19 is affecting the way we live and work.

As well as all the life events that could not take place this year, the horticultural industry has been unable to host any training or networking events. New technologies, innovations and products have been unable to be showcased to growers in the usual way.

In light of this situation, we have expanded our regular communications to our members and are now offering reasonable advertising opportunities or editorial spaces in our membership updates. These include:

  • Asparagus Growers Association
  • Brassica Growers Association
  • British Carrot Growers Association
  • British Herb Trade Association
  • British Leafy Salad Association
  • British Onions
  • Pea and Bean Growers Association
  • Plant Propagators
  • Turfgrass Growers Association.

Our advertising rates are used to help support the Grower Associations so that they can continue to represent and support the growers in their sector.

If you would like more information on placing an advert with our Crop Associations, please contact coral.russell@britishgrowers.org

Red Tractor | Fresh Produce consultation

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Every few years, Red Tractor reviews its farm standards to ensure they evolve in a way that addresses changes in legislation, best practice and reflects the concerns and priorities of UK consumers. A comprehensive review is now open for consultation, running until the 5th of March 2021. It is open to all farms, customers, licensees and industry stakeholders. Preserving the public’s trust in UK agriculture and the Red Tractor logo has never been more important or topical. We strive to achieve a balance that protects and promotes Red Tractor farms, provides customers and consumers with confidence, and addresses key industry challenges.

 

Proposals have been developed following industry best practice: Committee | Consultation | Consensus. This is the consultation stage and every response will be reviewed before a consensus proposal is drawn up and published, ahead of Version 5 of the Red Tractor Standards being implemented on 1st November 2021. We have already consulted broadly at the committee stage to create these proposals and the public consultation is another vital component of the process. This will help ensure we have a final text that is ambitious but remains approachable and accessible for small, family farms and we want feedback from all relevant stakeholders.

 

You can access the Red Tractor 2021 Review Hub here.

 

I would like to strongly encourage you to get involved and have your say; both in response to the consultation and also the briefer Pulse Survey which allows individuals to provide quick, general feedback on the Red Tractor scheme.

 

If you would like some further information on the proposals, you will find a number of resources on the Red Tractor 2021 Review Hub. You are welcome to contact me if you have questions or would like to organise an appointment to run through the content in more detail.

International Carrot and other Apiaceae Symposium- Postponed

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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 Info@carrotsymposium.com

Veg Power Membership Programme Launch – Thursday 22 October 10 -11am

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Veg Power, the unique alliance formed in 2018 to turn around vegetable consumption in the UK is hosting a launch event for its membership programme on Thursday 22ndOctober at 10.00-11.00am. The event is being hosted by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall with presentations from Baroness Rosie Boycott (Chair, Veg Power) and Dan Parker (Chief Executive, Veg Power). We’d be delighted if you would be able to attend. If the timings don’t work with your schedule, the event will be recorded and the link can be sent to you.

Since its inception Veg Power has reached 46 million people through its advertising campaign and engaged 425,000 kids through the schools’ programme. As a result, childrens’ perceptions are starting to change and more vegetables are being consumed. However, more financial support is required and the membership programme is the first-of-its-kind within the UK’s grocery sector. It involves all businesses from seed to fork including growers, caterers and retailers and the companies who supply them.

Rebecca Stevens (MSc, ANutr)
AfN Registered Associate Nutritionist
www.nourishandnurturenutrition.com

Please email rebeccastevensnutrition@gmail.com confirming your attendance, you will then be provided with access details closer to the time. Interviews can also be arranged with the speakers.

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