Industry invited to submit evidence to major inquiry into sector challenges 

The horticulture industry is being invited to make submissions to a new House of Lords inquiry into the challenges facing the sector.

The House of Lords Horticultural Sector Committee, chaired by Lord Redesdale, announced that it is now open for submissions to its new inquiry, which covers the production, cultivation and management of edible fruits and vegetables, as well as ornamental plants. 

The cross-party special inquiry committee will consider the challenges, opportunities and risks faced by the horticultural sector, including the impact of rising input costs and labour and skills shortages. It will also look at how innovative technologies might address these issues and other pressing challenges such as the impact of climate change on productivity and food supply.

In addition, the inquiry will explore how policy can support the sector in meeting the government’s ambitions for levelling up and post-Brexit trade policy. It will publish its report by the end of this year.

The committee is seeking written submissions addressing any or all of the following topics in relation to the horticultural sector in England:

  • Key challenges, risks, and opportunities facing the sector.
  • The impact of climate change on the sector, and how it can be mitigated.
  • Skills and recruitment challenges, particularly in relation to skilled jobs.
  • The availability of funding for science, research and development to enable innovation.
  • Benefits and challenges of implementing technological developments, particularly those that help combat climate change and its effects.
  • Resources and guidance available to organisations within the sector to i) implement new technology; ii) reduce their environmental impact.
  • The impact of trade on i) UK businesses ii) the environment and iii) bio- and phytosanitary issues.
  • Lessons learned from horticultural policy and practice from overseas, or from the devolved administrations.
  • The effectiveness of government planning and policymaking in relation to horticulture.
  • The impact of recent legislation on the sector, including the Agriculture Act 2020 and the Environment Act 2021.
  • Horticulture’s contribution to mental and physical health.

Lord Redesdale said: “Horticulture is worth billions to the UK economy. From healthy fruit and vegetables to the multitude of crop and plant varieties that can be grown in the UK, it is a fundamental component of a secure food supply, supports the wellbeing of millions of people, and could provide innovative solutions to the challenges presented by climate change. Despite this, horticulture has been continually overlooked and undervalued.

“The industry has long been calling for more support to realise these benefits. Our inquiry will explore what is needed to ensure the sector can lead the country towards net zero, deliver skilled green jobs, and innovate to put the UK on the map as a science superpower.

“Our committee would like to hear from a range of individuals and organisations, from farm workers, growers and gardeners to genomics researchers and robotics experts. Tell us how we can make these ambitions a reality.”

The deadline for submissions is midday on Monday 10 April 2023.

Click here to see the call for evidence and find out how to make a submission.