Plans to boost UK fruit and vegetable production and drive the growth of high-tech horticulture have been set out this week by Defra Secretary of State, Ranil Jayawardena MP, as part of the Government's work to increase domestic food production.
The CLA has been continually calling for further support from the government for farmers and growers. New measures to help with domestic food production, encouraging sustainable practices and increasing productivity are welcome at this time when our home-grown food security is increasingly important.
The £12.5m of funding will help drive innovation in agriculture and horticulture and is part of the Government’s Farming Innovation Programme. An additional £16.5m was announced at the end of August 2022 to help drive research and development in the agricultural sector. In total, Defra expects to spend around £600m on grants and other support for farmers to invest in productivity, animal health and welfare, innovation, research and development over the next three years.
The Farming Innovation Programme is vital in supporting farmers who are striving to improve productivity and sustainability
Commenting on this latest funding boost, CLA President, Mark Tufnell, said: “It is encouraging to see Defra allocate an additional £12.5m as part of the Farming Innovation Programme to drive Controlled Environment Horticulture. Benefits of these methods can produce extended growing seasons, more efficient water usage and higher yields." Mark added: “The Farming Innovation Programme is vital in supporting farmers who are striving to improve productivity and sustainability - particularly at a time when the resilience of our domestic food supply is more important than ever.
Urging policy makers to keep working with farmers at this time, Mark concluded by noting: "Although £600m of various packages and grants over the next three years is a step in the right direction, it is critical that governments around the UK continue to work closely with farmers so that we can continuously improve our ability to feed the nation and protect the natural environment.”