British Apples & Pears launches manifesto ahead of general election - Fruit & Vine

British Apples & Pears launches manifesto ahead of general election

An organisation that represents top commercial fruit growers has published its first ever manifesto ahead of the 2024 general election. 

British Apples & Pears launches manifesto ahead of general election

The manifesto created by British Apples & Pears Limited (BAPL) aims to provide all political parties with clear guidance on how best to secure the future of the British apple and pear industry. 

Ali Capper, executive chair of BAPL, said: “Any new British government has a great opportunity to turn around the current crisis facing UK apple and pear growers. 

Ali Capper, executive chair of BAPL.

“We have set out clear steps that we believe are both necessary and practical to achieve that. We understand that there will be many competing priorities for any new government, but the actions in our manifesto have extremely far-reaching and positive impacts.  

“Implementing these actions will help ensure domestic food security, support the rural economy, our environment and the health of the nation. Those ambitions should be firmly on the agenda of any government.” 

The ten actions in the BAPL manifesto concern a range of issues, from fair contracts with supermarkets to labour, environmental protection and innovation. 

The UK apple and pear grower crisis in numbers

Since early 2022, British apple growers have faced 30% increases in costs of production and received just 8% increases in returns from supermarkets.

Almost half (45%) of British apple and pear growers say retailers buy only on price and that it’s not a true partnership.

70% of growers say they are less confident than they were a year ago and almost half (45%) say they have scaled back their future investment plans.

The manifesto 

What a new UK government could do to help turn around this crisis:  

  1. Fair contracts with supermarkets – impose the fair dealing clause from the Agricultural Act 2020 with specific attention on pricing mechanisms and profitability.  
  2. Labour – make the Seasonal Workers Scheme a five-year scheme so that growers can plan for the longer term and remove the cap on seasonal workers. Ensure the Skilled Worker visa route offers employers an accessible and economically viable solution to skills shortages in the UK workforce. 
  3. Energy price protection – include commercial horticulture in the ETII (Energy and Trade Intensive Industries) scheme or other future energy protection schemes, to protect growers from future hikes in energy prices.  
  4. Food policy – replace the “cheap food policy” with a “British food policy”. Too often British produce is being substituted for imports that may sometimes be cheaper but are often grown to a lower standard. We need government support for British produce that has travelled fewer food miles and is top quality.  
  5. Carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM) – ensure that future carbon border adjustments are developed to include food. This would mean that British growers are not competing with cheap imports with a higher carbon and water footprint, while being targeted to reduce footprints in the UK.  
  6. Environmental protection – ensure that ELMs (Environmental Land Management schemes) work with food production, not instead of it. For example, recognising the value to the environment of orchards and incentivising/funding environmental measures within commercial orchards.  
  7. Finance – introduce a green finance strategy that ensures supermarkets are incentivised to choose British over imported fruit. Support a flexible future Producer Organisation (PO) and Productivity scheme to enable UK growers to better compete with EU producers.  
  8. Health – ensure that health strategies actively support the inclusion of fresh and minimally processed food.  
  9. Research and innovation – provide funding for orchard innovations that deliver sustainability and productivity gains and increase safe food production. Reduce the bureaucracy and increase the funding for applied on-farm research available through Innovate UK.  
  10. Crop protection – implement a regulatory framework for crop protection products that is cost effective (for applicants) and delivers competitive advantage for British growers. 

Manifesto and face-to-face briefings

BAPL will be sending the manifesto directly to the leaders of all the main political parties as well as their key representatives for agriculture, farming, health, finance and labour.  

Ms Capper said: “In addition to sending them our new manifesto, we will be offering face-to-face briefings with the political parties. 

“We are very keen to work with anyone who is open to our ideas for a stronger and sustainable British apple and pear industry.” 

Read the whole manifesto.

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