Shadow environment secretary outlines Labour plans to support farmers and put money in pockets of food producers

Steve Reed MP (second left) with Jimmy Russo (Centre)

Steve Reed MP (second left) with Jimmy Russo (Centre)

The Labour Party has pledged to deliver a new deal for vegetable and fruit growers to boost Britain’s food security.

Labour’s shadow environment secretary, Steve Reed MP, and Labour’s parliamentary candidate for the constituency of Harlow, Chris Vince, met with the owners of Valley Grown Nurseries in Nazeing, Essex, last week (16 April),

During the visit, Reed outlined Labour’s plans to deliver a ‘new deal for farmers’ which will put money in the pockets of food producers.

Labour’s plans include: ensuring at least half of all food procured by hospitals, prisons and other public bodies is British; using the Government’s own purchasing power to back British produce with local or sustainably produced food; turning on GB Energy, a new publicly owned energy company that will harness clean home-grown British power to deliver cheaper bills for farmers; and launching a Flood Resilience Taskforce to reduce the flood risk of farms through a Cobra-style taskforce.

Nazeing, within Harlow Parliamentary Constituency, grows and supplies around 80 million cucumbers or 75 per cent of the UK crop to supermarkets.

Discussions were held At Valley Grown Nurseries to listen to the concerns over expensive energy costs and a lack of investment in the horticulture sector.

Valley Grown Nurseries grow tomatoes, aubergines and peppers for British supermarkets under 22 acres of glasshouse at their site in Nazeing.

Speaking at Nazeing, Reed said: “Labour will give British farmers their future back and create jobs in rural areas. We will cut energy bills for farmers by switching on GB Energy, slash red tape at our borders to get food exports moving again and use the Government’s own purchasing power to back British produce.”

Vince added: “These nurseries in Nazeing are nationally important helping the UK to develop the security of our food supply chain.

“The growers in the Lea Valley area directly employ around 2,500 people and Labour is the party of businesses like these helping them to invest and thrive in our town. As a vegetarian, I was pleased to eat one of the best tomatoes I’ve ever eaten!”

Director of Valley Grown Nurseries and President of the Lea Valley Growers Association, Jimmy Russo, said: “I would like to thank Mr Reed and Mr Vince for visiting our nurseries in Nazeing and for taking the time to understand the issues and challenges relating to the fresh produce sector.

“We need politicians to make sure there are sustainable business models for the horticulture industry so that we have secure food production supply chains. This will mean the UK is less reliant on imported fruit and vegetables and that British growers, like us, get the support and backing we need.”