The Agriculture Bills passage through parliament will start to speed up following the decision to postpone the date for the UKs exit from the EU. Following a meeting with Defra staff, Jack reports that we could start to see the Bill continue on its path through the parliamentary process in May. (there has been virtually no progress on the Bill since the Committee stages in November). There are several aspects of the Bill which are of particular interest to the fresh produce industry. The Govt is keen to support increased productivity and discussions are starting to take place on what this might entail. The section on POs is another area where the fresh produce industry will be taking a keen interest. We have started to give some thought to how a replacement scheme might operate so we are on the front foot with our proposals. Work on the Food Strategy is also moving forward. There has been a lot of talk about the role which fresh produce could take in delivering a healthier nation. The Food Strategy is an ideal opportunity to see this message turned into something tangible which lends more support and encouragement to need to increase our daily intake of fruit and veg.
Many new initiatives affecting the sector have been on hold while parliamentary time has been taken up with Brexit. Now that a no deal scenario is looking less likely, the Government machine will be returning to a more ‘business as normal’ pattern of operation. This should mean that the discussions on the detail of the new Agriculture Bill will start to accelerate. Expect busy times ahead.