Europe urged to reduce regulatory burden on growers

The EU needs to reduce regulatory burdens on growers to maximise the potential of UK horticulture, Herefordshire soft-fruit grower and NFU horticulture and potatoes board vice-chairman Anthony Snell told a hearing at the European Parliament last week.

He urged officials to tailor requirements for producer organisations to boost their uptake in the UK, where their numbers are in decline. "If the commission is serious about wanting to encourage more growers to join POs then it is crucially important that the scheme adapts to fit the market structures that exist in a member state."

Snell was invited to speak in the parliament by Anthea McIntyre MEP, who is drafting a report on horticultural policy in the EU. "This report has come at the right time," he said. "The difficult weather conditions that growers battled against last year have made it more important than ever to look at ways of shoring up the horticulture sector."

He also said the commission's precautionary approach on the area of pesticide regulation "is becoming a serious threat to the future of productive farming".

Snell added: "We also need to make sure that the supply chain is fair for everyone - growers, processors and retailers. This is not the case at present in Europe but, with some significant changes in the way that the food supply chain operates, savvy promotion of our products and the right policy signals from the commission and UK Government, we can ensure that our sector is fit for the future."

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