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Pinchbeck grower: "£1.3billion industry is always an 'after thought' in Brexit negotiations

Difficult times – I think the phrase is. Weather, Labour requirements and Brexit.

I’m unsure as to which is the correct order of priority. I suppose we can put a line through the weather as no canvassing is going to make the sun shine or the rain stop.

Labour is a huge problem and one that I believe the powers that be just pay lip service to in relation to the Ornamental sector.

Sue Lamb (6012310)
Sue Lamb (6012310)

They really do not appreciate the effects that a serious labour shortage would bring but we are very close to finding out with the indoor tulip season fast approaching.

The NFU is asking for seasonal workers schemes to be expanded and this ridiculous earnings floor of £30,000 to be lowered.

But as always I feel this sector is an afterthought. When the Government looks at skills they measure them in terms of academic qualifications. Is a forklift driver or a spray operator not skilled?

The Ornamentals sector is worth £1.3billion to the national economy
The Ornamentals sector is worth £1.3billion to the national economy

They also mention people coming for a maximum of three years but this will prevent investment in your workforce by way of training and promotion when you know you only have them for a limited time.

In 2018 the value of all Ornamentals grown in the UK was £1.3billion, Vegetables £1.4billion and fruit £769m. These are serious industries that even with a lot of technical advancements made over the last few years are desperate for a good workforce.

And then we have Brexit, I actually went into the house and watched a few minutes of Prime Minister's Question Time the other day and ignoring what was being said, I just thought if as much passion and energy was put into fixing our problems as shouting and hurling insults at each other we would have no problems, everything would be fixed.

That said I will leave you with one thought, when this paper comes out it is 78 more days to Christmas, where has the year gone?

- Brexit was also the focus of another Word on the Ground column by Phil Ingleby

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