The Soil Association is calling for the government to double UK fruit and veg production through nature-friendly farming after the House of Lords dubbed the future of the horticulture sector as “bleak”.
The warning was issued in a report published today (Monday 6 November) by the cross-party House of Lords Horticultural Sector Committee.
Advice from the Soil Association for more research into sustainable farming practices was also included in the report, after the charity submitted evidence in parliament as part of the inquiry.
Calling for a “cross-departmental horticulture strategy”, the report said: “The Soil Association called for better research and innovation funding to support a transition to more sustainable farming practices, including using fewer chemicals. The Soil Association’s Ben Raskin told us that ‘far too much of our R&D budget goes into high-tech robotic solutions… and not enough into enabling farmers to do more on the ground’.”
In response to today’s report, Soil Association Head of Farming Policy Gareth Morgan said:
“The declaration by the House of Lords that the future of horticulture looks ‘bleak’ is concerning but not a shock given the struggles our farmers and growers are facing. Fruit and veg are not being prioritised enough in farming or diet-related government policy. Ministers must listen to the warnings from the lords and from all of us who contributed to this inquiry.
“Too few people can access healthy food, and rising fuel and electricity costs, labour shortages and low profits mean many growers are considering throwing in the towel. But these problems are solvable - government urgently needs to get the promised horticulture strategy back off the scrap heap.
“We want to see UK fruit and veg production doubled – through agroecological, nature-friendly methods – to support British growers and healthy diets.”
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