Interests of production horticulture will continue at EU level, says Conservative MEP

The UK is one of just two member states who are experiencing a decline in the number of producer organisations.

Raymond and McIntyre: West Midlands horticulture discussed - image: HW
Raymond and McIntyre: West Midlands horticulture discussed - image: HW

West Midlands Conservative MEP Anthea McIntyre has said her efforts to promote the interests of production horticulture at EU level will continue, following the publication of a report based on her industry document adopted by the European Parliament in March.

"There is a lot I can still do," she said at the report's launch at the Royal Three Counties Show in Worcestershire earlier this month.

"I am keen to concentrate on the minor uses fund. We need crop protection products for horticulture, but it's not something the big companies want to invest in. The Commission are looking at a public fund for this but it won't be additional money"

The response from EU agriculture commissioner Dacian Ciolo, contained in the report, "has been very encouraging", she added.

In it Ciolo says of the proposed fund for minor uses: "The fruit and vegetables sector will benefit."

McIntyre added: "The Commission has said it will take my views on board, and they also recognise the need to do something about food waste. Meanwhile I am very keen to see POs (producer organisations) better suited to UK market conditions."

The UK is one of only two member states with a declining number of POs, the report points out.

McIntyre acknowledged the support of Defra secretary Owen Paterson, and of the NFU in its preparation.

Paterson said in his foreword: "This report is important because it highlights the barriers to growth, and also the numerous opportunities for development and expansion of EU horticulture."

Having successfully been re-elected in the European Parliament elections last month, "I now have five years ahead of me to pursue the goals set out in this report," McIntyre said.

With the Conservatives' switch from the European People's Party grouping in the parliament to the smaller European Conservatives & Reformists, "we will have more influence so will be able to achieve more", she added.

NFU president Meurig Raymond said: "Horticulture is so important to the West Midlands economy and it is well placed to deliver import substitution, for which this provides a framework."

Industry view - Anthony Snell

Anthony Snell, chairman of the West Midlands NFU Horticulture Board, said:

"This the result of a lot of work by growers in the West Midlands, along with background work by the NFU. It will now be a hugely important document to refer to in Europe.

"A lot of these issues - neonicotinoids, GM, red tape - will keep recurring, and this reflects the common-sense views of British growers on them."

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