Shadow Defra Minister visits UK’s largest rose grower Whartons
by David Lydiat
The Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) arranged for Opposition Minister Daniel Zeichner MP to visit Whartons Garden Roses in Norfolk this week to showcase their business and highlight several challenges facing the industry. Workforce shortages, access to suitable peat alternatives and imports/exports post EU-Exit were brought to the Shadow Defra Minister’s attention.
Whartons produce 1.5 million roses per year for the UK and abroad and are a significant contributor to the national economy and gardens up and down the country.
Paul Wharton, Grandson of founder John Wharton, who runs the business with his father Robert commented:
‘’We were delighted to have the opportunity that a visit from the Shadow Minister gave us. Helping Daniel see the practical implication and impact of the challenges we all face was invaluable. We hope this insight helps Daniel better represent our concerns to government. ”
Daniel Zeichner MP said:
“As an East of England MP, I was struck by the scale of the operation – one and a half million roses a year, and note that as the nation’s biggest rose grower, Whartons make a significant contribution to the economy of our region. The rose is one the great English symbols, and it is vital that growers have the support they need in order to flourish. However, the horticulture sector is currently facing a perfect storm of uncertainty, with labour pressures, inflation and homegrown red tape. Labour would help support British horticulture through our plans to buy, make and sell more in Britain.”
The HTA’s Public Affairs and Policy Manager David Lydiat, stated:
“We were pleased to welcome the Shadow Defra Minister to our member Whartons so he could see first-hand, not only what they contribute to the industry, but also the challenges they are currently facing. Access to peat alternatives at scale, such as wood fibre and coir, is essential for our industry in the short-term. Following the Defra consultation on peat ending, we urge the Government to outline support for our professional growers with research grants and widening access to alternatives for the whole supply chain.
“Furthermore, it was encouraging that Daniel Zeichner understood the uncertainty horticulture businesses are facing in regards to imports and exports. Border Control Points are about to be implemented in the UK but we still do not have clarification over costs, inspection timeframes or the new IT system. This is a multi-million pound perishable goods industry which relies on imports and has vast potential in exports. We need to reduce trade barriers to support our UK industry to be competitive on the world stage.”