Emmett calls for coronavirus business loans repayment extension as plant deliveries fall to 5% of norm

Radio 4's Farming Today has heard HTA/Farplants' Martin Emmett call to secure CBILS (the Government loan guarantee scheme) for horticulture to help avert imminent insolvency.

Farplants' Martin Emmett, the HTA ornamentals group chairman, said the growers has £15m stock on the ground in eight million pots. He said 200 artics a week should be going to garden centres, but that will be just eight this week.

Wastage "depends how long the crisis goes on for" and in a "worst case scenario" lockdown until the end of June "the vast majority will have to be destroyed".

He explained that the huge volumes meant online sales would not help and that online was not very suitable for larger finished plants.

There is "typically no form of insurance cover" and said the Government's Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (BILS) is "going to be critical to long-term survival" but long-term repayment terms need to be extended by the Government.

Farplants said it is vital to keep propagating for 2021 but that the loss of this season's crops was "devastating".

The HTA campaign for Government scrappage of £250m for growers continues to broadcast publicly the scale of potential losses by growers and the association is keen for nurseries to be vocal on the issue, while emphasising that scale, logistics and lockdown mean online sales and giveaways are not viable ways to reduce wastage.

Listen at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000h2b3

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