Examination of Witnesses

Part of Agriculture Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:12 pm on 25th October 2018.

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Jack Ward:

Growers understand that they are operating in a very competitive market and that is the way the world goes. We also have to recognise that we only supply for a part of the year. For growers, with the exception of one or two crops, it is a seasonal operation. Some growers are growing overseas and filling that gap. Generally they understand exactly how the supply chain works. I think I am right in saying that the Minister is charged with developing something around supply-chain fairness in the future. I think it is just about getting a better understanding between the two sides about what supermarkets need and what growers can supply.

This year has been a good case in point. We have been through a really difficult growing season with a very cold start and then a very dry middle period. It took quite a long time before people appreciated that what was coming off the farms would be different to a normal year, as a result of those weather conditions. It is about getting that understanding, acceptance and realisation that things might be different. You are not producing off a spreadsheet. Even if your spreadsheet says you will get “x” volume of “y” specification at “z” price, the season can interrupt that. There needs to be a grown-up discussion about how to accommodate that, rather than buyers turning their backs and saying, “Okay, we will have it in from America,” or wherever.