The English Apples and Pears trade body is calling on the government to help boost consumption of UK-grown topfruit following Defra’s Health and Harmony consultation paper.
In response to the command paper, which outlined proposals for a new domestic agricultural policy when Britain leaves the EU, the organisation set out 12 actions that it believes would help the industry grow.
The 12-point plan calls for action across key areas including Producer Organisation (PO) funding, immigration policies and match-funded investment productivity schemes. Meanwhile, health and sustainability were highlighted as key reasons for urgent government support.
Consumption of domestic orchard fruit has developed significantly over the last decade, with 42 per cent of all fresh apples and pears consumed in the UK now British.
The trade body said the British topfruit industry was not resting on its laurels, aiming to supply well over 60 per cent of eating apples to British consumers by 2030. But it fears this will be challenging without government action in key areas.
“The premise is simple – we are asking government to urgently support policy and campaigns that will increase the consumption of British-grown apples and pears," said Capper.
“British orchards are capable of delivering public good – it’s good for the environment and the fruit produced is good for the nation’s health too.
“We’re ambitious to grow the size of the British crop. We know this is possible but we will need action in key areas in order to make this happen. In the current climate we fail to see how supporting the industry can be anything but positive.”
EAP members are opening their doors to government representatives to visit their orchards and sample their fruit in a bid to showcase the industry first hand.
“The modern British orchard is highly productive and has potential to deliver extraordinary environment benefits too," Capper said.
EAP’s full 12-point plan calls for support in the following areas:
1. Commit to continue the current PO funding mechanism until 2022
2. Support campaigns designed to increase the consumption of British-grown fruit and vegetables
3. Consider bespoke environmental schemes suitable for orchards
4. Deliver immigration policies that will urgently provide a permit or visa scheme for non-EU seasonal workers and a scheme for future EU workers
5. Co-ordinate full, part-time and CPD (Continuing Professional Development) courses for orchardists through the relevant educational institutions
6. Add orchard establishment items, specialist orchard items, automated and robotic harvest equipment and the marketing activities of trade organisations to future capital grant schemes
7. Provide match-funded investment productivity schemes and recognise the higher value of long-term grower co-operatives and collaborations in these schemes
8. Provide a more enabling and holistic regulatory framework for the approval of plant protection products and provide parity for UK growers with EU growers before the UK leaves the EU
9. Provide bespoke R&D funding to speed up breeding programme successes and understanding of pests and diseases
10. Continue to support The Grocery Code Adjudicator and ensure that the code is extended to include growers with indirect contracts with retailers
11. Match-fund grower investment in insurance schemes and export development and update planning guidance to recognise the importance of rural business development
12. Provide a free and frictionless trade environment and ensure that imported produce matches UK production standards.