The Government has rejected calls by The HTA and NFU to pay financial compensation to UK Growers following the Covid shutdown.
The Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) Chairman, James Barnes, said, “The decision by DEFRA not to provide financial support to ornamental growers is hugely disappointing and a significant blow for many English plant nurseries.”
Over half British growers, he said, are expecting a further downturn in sales throughout July as they have not been able to plant crops during lockdown.
Plant sales at UK garden centres remain buoyant as people stay at home. This has increased imports from countries that have supported their industries and where garden centres have remained open.
James Barnes goes on to say, “The recently proposed Border Operating Model and new January trading arrangements represent a very significant challenge for the sector in just a few months’ time. These proposals would, if they remain unchanged, deal another blow to an already weakened sector.
“Now, more than ever, we need to support domestic production to provide resilience that comes with a strong UK based horticultural industry.
“My primary concern is that the value of this £24bn industry is not fully recognised within Government, both economically and in terms of its contribution to the Government’s 25 Year Environmental plan.”
He calls on government to give priority to the following:
- assurance that garden centres will retain ‘essential retailer’ classification for future COVID-19 related planning.
- ensuring that forthcoming Brexit trade arrangements will balance free trade with the UK’s biosecurity needs – and to work with the industry to understand the complex supply chain issues.
- spearheading a ‘Buy British’ campaign for all direct and local government procurement processes for forthcoming landscape projects.”