The short-term transition of producer organisation funding by Defra provides welcome relief for growers and avoids a funding gap that could have had a significant impact on horticultural businesses, according to National Farmers' Union (NFU) horticulture and potatoes board chairman Ali Capper.

She said:

“I’m incredibly pleased that Defra has listened to our concerns and granted a short-term transition to growers that ensures there is no funding gap while a new UK horticulture productivity scheme is developed.

“Producer organisations are hugely valuable to Britain’s horticulture sector, selling more than 50% of all British fruit and veg, as well as driving cooperation, productivity improvements and technology developments.

A new UK horticulture productivity scheme is an exciting prospect for growers and we have been working closely with Defra to ensure it is fit for purpose and helps support the sector to grow and be globally competitive.

“It is critical that producer organisations have sufficient clarity on the structure of the new support mechanisms ahead of programmes ending, so that they have time to make the necessary preparations.”

AHDB to wind down activities

The Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board (AHDB) had announced in May that it is winding down “significant activities” on behalf of the horticulture and potatoes sectors.

While still awaiting a decision on the future by ministers in England, Scotland and Wales, the AHDB wants to reassure levy payers their views have been heard following recent ballots in the two sectors.

The AHDB is now stopping programmes of work that could be restarted in the future by grower associations, individual growers or the supply chain.

This work includes for example, export market access and promotional international trade event work, consumer marketing campaigns and market pricing and insight information.

The AHDB will continue to deliver limited emergency work on pests and diseases, including the Extension of Authorisation for Minor Use (EAMU)’s and some contracted research work.