Supply chain and SAWS top NFU's 2012 agenda

Stronger supply chain relationships, improved producer organisation scheme management, renewing the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme (SAWS), terminating the Agricultural Wages Board (AWB) and consideration for polytunnels in the planning system feature among the NFU's lobbying priorities for 2012.

With the deadline for producer organisations to re-register now passed, "there needs to be some serious relationship mending between the administrators and beneficiaries of the scheme", according to the NFU horticulture and potatoes board's Top 10 Policy Priorities 2012 document, released ahead of the NFU's annual conference on 21-22 February.

"If the UK hopes to be as competitive as some European counterparts, we have to crack the recurrent audit problem and use the producer organisation scheme to facilitate greater collaboration and efficiency."

On labour, the NFU "is currently lobbying to see that seasonal labour is not part of any Government immigration cap" and will also be "providing a robust response to the Government's consultation later this year, outlining why the AWB is now obsolete", it said.

The union will also be putting the case for polytunnels within the revision of planning laws, arguing: "These structures are allowing growers to compete with foreign imports and offer consumers great tasting British products for more of the year."

The right environment for profitable businesses

"Following a disappointing financial performance for many growers last year, we want to create the right environment for our members to run profitable businesses. If we want to turn around our declining self-sufficiency in fruit and vegetable production and continue to provide consumers with the high-quality, home-grown fruit and vegetables that they demand, then it is vital that growers are given the right signals to encourage them to invest for the future."

Sarah Dawson, chairman, NFU horticulture & potatoes board.

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