HTA’s OMC agrees to form group to communicate industry’s future research needs

The HTA’s Ornamental Management Committee (OMC) has agreed to convene a working group to establish and communicate the industry’s future research and development needs, with remit to articulate its findings to Defra and the AHDB.

With the future of horticulture within the AHDB and the anticipated result of the forthcoming ballot being a hot topic of discussion at this week’s grower representative committee meeting, it was agreed this was a way for growers to constructively input into the debate on the future of the AHDB. While there are other groups looking at this issue and responding in their own way into the post-ballot process, this group will represent an OMC viewpoint.

The regular ‘state of trade’ agenda item was dominated by members reporting on-going frustration and issues with the current Northern Ireland restrictions and the outdated PEACH import system. One member reported that they were facing a £100K loss in trade due to the plant export restrictions to Northern Ireland. Members backed the HTA’s calls for an urgent change to the current regulations. While the PEACH IT system is in operation until IPAFFS starts, members continue to report user issues. There was a plea for Defra to take on board the feedback about the new IPAFFS and make the necessary changes to accurately reflect our sector’s requirements. Pesticide approvals was another post-Brexit trade issue that is causing consternation.

Martin Emmett, chairman of the OMC said: “The sustainable future of our ornamental horticulture industry is something we all deeply care about. Whatever the result of the AHDB statutory levy ballot we need to agree an approach that our sector’s research and development needs are recognised and met. As an industry we contribute hugely to the Government’s ‘green growth’ agenda and we need to be appropriately recognised for research and development funding, to keep ornamental horticulture at the top of the Government’s agenda.

“On post-Brexit trade, we need the Government to be responsive and agile in its approach to the issues we are encountering with trade. Political pragmatism needs to prevail on finding solutions to getting GB-based members trading with Northern Ireland. An IT pre-notification system that is fit for purpose and specifically tailored to our needs, is crucial. With fresh produce and cut flowers added to the mix, horticulture will be the largest user of the new IPAFFS.”

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