Industry group raises issues with Commons committee

Members of the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs committee heard industry concerns about plant reproductive material, research and development and plant health issues at an All-Party Parliamentary Gardening & Horticulture Group dinner on 21 October.

Committee chair Anne McIntosh MP said animal health issues such as the horse meat scandal meant successive Governments did not have "enough resource for plant and tree health". She said ash dieback "can't be allowed to happen again".

Oakover Nurseries general manager Brian Fraser said communication, collaboration and consistency are important messages to control diseases. Defra's Tree Disease Register and "how that's communicated to us and how we can access that information is key", he added. "If it's in Europe it will come to us so Defra needs better collaboration with European counterparts."

Fraser said he is concerned about a gap for the "driver" of new planting schemes. Woodland-creation grants will pause because of a new Common Agricultural Policy, he added, and asked: "How can you plan a business with no potential market?"

Horticulture Innovation Partnership (HIP) chairman Mary Bosley said the new body is mapping the landscape for funding priorities and technology readiness as well as setting up a new ornamental strategy.

Horticultural Development Company chair Neil Bragg said research and development must be industry-funded through retrieving more levy.

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