'UK must double production to divert from “bleak” future'


08 November 2023
House of Lords declaration prompts call for government action.

THE UK government is being urged to double  the amount of UK vegetables that are produced through nature-friendly farming after the House of Lords dubbed the future of the sector as “bleak”.
The warning was issued in a report published by the cross-party House of Lords Horticultural Sector Committee. Advice from the Soil Association for more research into sustainable farming practices was also included in the report, after the charity submitted evidence in parliament as part of the inquiry.

The report referred to the Soil Association’s Ben Raskin statement that ‘far too much of our R&D budget goes into high-tech robotic solutions… and not enough into enabling farmers to do more on the ground".

The Soil Association Head of Farming Policy Gareth Morgan said: “The declaration by the House of Lords that the future of horticulture looks ‘bleak’ is concerning but not a shock given the struggles our farmers and growers are facing."

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He said rising fuel and electricity costs, labour shortages and low profits mean many growers are considering "throwing in the towel" but said these problems are solvable. "Government urgently needs to get the promised horticulture strategy back off the scrap heap. We want to see UK fruit and veg production doubled – through agroecological, nature-friendly methods – to support British growers and healthy diets.”

The Soil Association is calling for manifesto commitments from all political parties which includes doubling investment in nature-friendly farming across the UK, doubling British fruit and vegetable production through nature-friendly farming and intervening in supply chains so that retailers take greater responsibility and provide contracts that incentivise growers.

Photo: Michelle Henderson

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