So whether you liked the process of the election, the result or the people involved, now is the time to band together and take up the opportunities presented to us.
Of our DEFRA ministers, all retained their seats with the exception of environment minister Zac Goldsmith, who was defeated by the Lib Dems in Richmond Park, a strong Remain-voting seat which had a 78.7% turnout of voters… The NFU were well prepared for every eventuality and Minette Batters has been very vocal in all of the trade and national press urging government to back British farming, “Britain needs the new government to back British farming like never before; to invest in domestic food production so we can increase our productivity, create more jobs and deliver more for the environment,” she stated. “Government needs to act to ensure guaranteed access to a skilled and competent workforce; develop a framework for a more competitive and sustainable farming industry; put in place a long-term food strategy; and place science at the heart of policy making. “This will allow farming businesses to continue doing what they do best – provide safe, traceable and affordable food for the nation.”
There are a number of elements from within the Conservative manifesto which are of interest/concern for the fruit sector.
<b>The Seasonal Worker permit scheme </b>– currently running as a pilot of 2,500 permits managed by two providers, the Conservatives have pledged an immediate increase to 10,000 permits. Very good so far, but the pilot is coming to an end in two years at which point it needs to be scaled up to 70,000 permits (we’d rather have them now please, if any of DEFRA and the immigration team are reading this). It takes at least 18 months for contractors for this kind of work to be processed through the application and assessment protocols, they need to be applying now for us to stand a chance of them being able to recruit well for the season which will be immediately ahead. There is concern that the MAC have not fully understood the need for seasonal labour, while we have enjoyed the phenomenally talented graduates who have come over in the last twenty years and we have undoubtedly benefitted from their brilliance throughout the sector, it’s hard workers who can pick that we are looking for, in the main.
CRD – over 100 actives will be up for re-registration in 2020, there is a real need for a cohesive lobbying campaign to keep them. There are great hopes that the ‘lift and shift’ model for legislation will facilitate a move for all of the data straight into UK legislation.
Support – be it trade, stewardship or PO there are discussions at every level. If you have not yet engaged in the food consultation time is running out. Henry Dimbleby posed three questions at the Nuffield Conference in early December.
Will synthetic and alternative protein sources ever be more than a niche product?
What would be the most useful data that you could have now and what would you do with them?
What nascent technologies are you most excited/worried about?
What is very clear from all the meetings that I have attended, we need to be engaged, answering the questions when they are posed and above all getting involved – with every policy that governs our businesses in review, trade negotiations with the USA, actives to be supported and big financial changes on the horizon, now is the time to get out, get involved and make sure that our voice is heard when they are making policy that will determine our future!