- Additional and excessive regulations for trading plants from the EU have been introduced since the end of the transition period
- The annual extra cost to the horticulture industry is estimated at £25m-£30m with small businesses disproportionately affected
- 78% of HTA members claim a negative impact due to excessive import restrictions imposed by the UK Government after Brexit
- The new trading arrangements are limiting product ranges and hitting customers’ pockets – adding over a pound to a £9.99 plant simply to cover admin
- The Government should conduct an urgent review on inspection regime and fees it has imposed
- It should revise the broad-brush ‘high-priority’ plants list
- It should work with the industry on promoting biosecurity best practice in the supply chain – which has always been a fundamental bedrock of the industry
- There should be a ‘trusted trader’ scheme established for inspections, allowing self-inspection for those audited to high-level certification schemes such as Plant Healthy and the Ornamental Horticulture Accreditation Scheme (PHAS)
- There should be a more targeted approach to those who need advice, with enhanced, intelligence-led enforcement for the tiniest minority who don’t follow the rules
A plant health agreement - medium and longer-term:
- Develop a plant health agreement with the EU. We know this will be complex and will take time
- Foster trust and recognition between plant health regimes in order to remove bureaucratic processes
- Use Plant Health Agreement, to negate the need for certificates or inspections at point of export, for example
- Ensure that imports, particularly of young starter plants, are recognised as fundamental to British horticulture production
- Grow the export market in ornamentals, not only globally, but to the EU as an opportunity not to be missed
- Showcase the ‘best of British’ iconic plants and trees – such as oak, honeysuckle and apple trees, but many are on the prohibited list for export to the EU. These could be removed by a Plant Health Agreement with the EU
Why British growers need to import
96% of British plant and tree growers import from abroad – mainly early-stage plant material that cannot be grown in this country due to our climate. This young plant materials is then grown on into full size plants by UK growers.
Trade is currently being obstructed by the increase in time and costs for businesses to import plants and trees into the UK. From the 1 June 2021 a substantial fee was added to import inspections, which had been taking place since 1 January 2021. Control have been imposed on plant border movement since then, adding layers of complex and lengthy pre-notifications, certificates and inspections. Meanwhile, checks and fees will not be required for many other sectors until 2022, such as the importation of products of animal origin, like dairy and sausages.
What about biosecurity?
We all support a focus on biosecurity - no one wants to see a repeat of ash dieback, nor Xylella introduced into this country, but the approach needs to be proportionate and have a clear strategy. With the current barriers to trade in place, the industry cannot grow to the level we can achieve.
The industry already has robust biosecurity standards and auditing systems in place, such as OHAS and Plant Healthy, and has implemented Plant Passporting, which is mandatory to maintain traceability for all plants moving in trade and ensuring a level of competence in plant health, pests and disease amongst all professional operators.