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Sustain urges swift action in response to minister's announcement of upcoming horticulture inquiry

In a pivotal moment for the beleaguered horticulture sector, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is poised to commence its inquiry into fairness within the horticultural supply chain.

Mark Spencer MP. Credit: UK Parliament

Mark Spencer MP. Credit: UK Parliament

In a pivotal moment for the beleaguered horticulture sector, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is poised to commence its inquiry into fairness within the horticultural supply chain.

At a recent meeting of the House of Lords Inquiry into the horticulture sector committee, Mark Spencer MP, the Minister for Food, Farming, and Fisheries, was challenged on his controversial decision earlier this summer to scrap horticultural strategy. Sustain critiqued this as a missed opportunity to better link production and supply with strategic interventions.

Explaining the rationale behind scrapping the previous strategy, Mark Spencer stated, "We prefer to take action and intervene rather than simply writing things down."

These actions are set to be announced after the review into fairness in the sector, due to commence next month.

Among the changes urgently called for by Sustain is the creation of a new horticulture supply chain code with an enforcer, plus strengthening of the Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA), the regulatory body responsible for ensuring fair dealings within the supply chain. As pointed out by Spencer at the committee yesterday, the GCA focuses on the supplier-retailer relationship, which leaves a significant gap for those farmers with contracts primarily tied to processors or other intermediaries rather than retailers.

Will White - Farming Campaign Coordinator says

"We are pleased to receive confirmation from the minister regarding the impending horticulture inquiry. However, we strongly emphasise the need for speed and ambition in establishing a robust and well enforced supply chain code of practice. It is absolutely critical that we rectify the existing disparity between the diligence, risks, and time invested by growers and the deal they receive for their produce."

Published Friday 8 September 2023

Sustainable Farming Campaign: Sustain encourages integration of sustainable food and farming into local, regional and national government policies.

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