The NFU scored another victory for agriculture ahead of Brexit, after Defra agreed to maintain current funding for fruit and veg producer organisations for another four years.
While the government had already agreed to match agricultural farm funding levels until 2020, producer organisations (POs) had not received confirmation that their income support would continue.
Currently the EU “match funds” the amount raised by POs to the tune of roughly £40 million a year. More than 30 fruit and veg organisations rely on that money for post-harvest research and development, helping make British growers more competitive.
But Defra have now committed to meeting PO funding levels until the end of the current parliament, with the next general election to be held in 2022. The funding will also be provided regardless of the outcome of the ongoing EU negotiations.
NFU horticulture and potatoes board chairman Ali Capper, who has campaigned since the Brexit vote to maintain PO funding levels, said she was “delighted” and "relieved" with the decision.
“I raised the issue personally with Defra Secretary of State Michael Gove at the NFU’s fringe event at the Conservative Party Conference where he promised to make this a priority. Along with the other growers in these groups, I am extremely relieved that he fulfilled his promise by providing a much-needed answer,” Capper said.
“These groups provide significant value to the horticulture sector by encouraging co-operation between growers, increasing productivity and channeling investment in the latest technology. The NFU is keen to continue working with Defra to shape the future of producer organisations and deliver the benefits more widely across the horticulture and potatoes sector.”
Following the decision Defra stated: “We can today confirm that funding for operational programmes which are approved before we leave the EU is guaranteed until the end of this Parliament. This is in line with the Government’s Manifesto Commitment to commit the same cash total in funds for farm support to the end of this Parliament, expected in 2022. This guarantee remains in place, even in the event of a No Deal with the European Union.”