The UK government has today (Tuesday, May 14) launched a new Blueprint for Growing the UK Fruit and Vegetable Sector.

The blueprint was announced at the Farm to Fork Summit today as part of a package of support for the farming and food sector.

It sets out how industry and government can work together to increase domestic production and drive investment into the fruit and vegetable sector.

The plan involves:

  • Ensuring the sector has access to affordable and sustainable energy and water;
  • Cutting planning red tape to make it easier and quicker to build glasshouses;
  • New investment to boost innovation in the sector, where Defra will look to double to £80 million the amount of funding given to horticulture businesses when compared to the EU legacy Fruit and Vegetable Aid Scheme.

The Farm to Fork Summit also saw publication of the first draft Food Security Index, setting out data and trends to allow government and industry to safeguard the UK’s food security.

The UK government said this will allow it to monitor short-term trends across the UK.

Environment Secretary Steve Barclay said: “Food security is vital to our national security, which is why today’s summit is so important, bringing together government and key representatives from the farming and food sector at Downing Street.

“Today’s announcements will turbocharge the growth of our horticultural sector supporting the building of cutting-edge glasshouses and innovative farming techniques to put British fruit and vegetables on our plates all-year round. 

“We will continue to invest in and support farmers to produce the best of British food to strengthen our food security, championing innovation in the sector.”

Wet weather

The government has set out how it plans to provide further support for farmers affected by the wet weather.

Building on our commitment to extend the Farming Recovery Fund to support farmers who have been flooded, temporary adjustments will be made for farmers and land managers where the wet weather has led to difficulties carrying out the requirements of our Environmental Land Management Schemes,” the government said.

“There will also be £75 million to support internal drainage boards (IDBs) to accelerate recovery from the winter 2023-24 storms and provide opportunities to modernise and upgrade assets that benefit and support resilience for farms and rural communities.”

Farming Minister Mark Spencer said: “This government will always back British farmers. Food production is the primary purpose of farming, and our farmers and food producers work hard to keep the nation fed, despite challenges including flooding.

“Supporting our farmers and food producers is at the heart of our plans and we are committed to working with them.

“We are pressing on with our plan by investing in food security and resilient farming businesses, providing business advice and cutting unnecessary red tape.  

“It is an exciting time and we are investing in innovation, ensuring the sector has the labour it needs, further embedding fairness in the supply chain, and making sure the sector is attracting the best and brightest.”