Horticulture

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 1st December 2020.

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Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Conservative, South Holland and The Deepings

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effect of the end of the transition period on the ornamental horticultural industry’s ability to contribute to the Government's green growth economic recovery strategy.

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Conservative, South Holland and The Deepings

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the effect of the implementation of proposed import and export processes and procedures for plants and plant products after the end of the transition period on the British ornamental horticulture industry.

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Conservative, South Holland and The Deepings

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what support the Government plans to provide to the ornamental horticulture industry from the 1 January 2021 to 1 July 2021 on implementing the proposed import and export processes for plants and plant products after the end of the transition period.

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Conservative, South Holland and The Deepings

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what consultation his Department has undertaken with ornamental horticultural industry representatives on the potential effects on plant health of the proposed import and export processes for plants and plant products after the end of the transition period.

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Conservative, South Holland and The Deepings

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the effects of the financial costs after the end of the transition period of import fees for plants applicable until the 1 July 2021 on the British ornamental horticultural industry.

Photo of Victoria Prentis Victoria Prentis The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

From 1 January 2021, Great Britain (GB) is introducing a phased import regime for EU goods to maintain biosecurity and keep trade as frictionless as possible. The phased EU import regime will allow time for trade to adapt to the new import requirements for EU goods.

GB plant health authorities are undertaking significant recruitment to increase the number of plant health inspectors to service the demand for import and export checks and certification. We will have sufficient resources to meet demand from 1 January 2021 and ensure minimal disruption to trade. GB plant health services are currently reviewing their operating hours to make sure that biosecurity standards will continue to be met and strengthened in ways that support trade and the smooth the flow of goods while minimising the burden on businesses.

We have maintained regular engagement with the horticultural industry on post-transition period planning, both with individual operators and through key stakeholder groups. This includes fora such as the Plant Health Advisory Forum, the Tree Health Policy Group and the Ornamental Horticulture Roundtable Group, as well as frequent bilateral engagement with key stakeholders such as the Horticultural Trade Association, Fresh Produce Consortium, the National Farmers Union and the Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association. Most recently we have undertaken a series of end-to-end feasibility sessions with more than 300 participants, and equivalent export sessions. Alongside these feasibility sessions Defra is hosting a series of webinars open to all, on the new plant health requirements for imports, exports, and internal movement.

It is important that plant health services are properly financed to provide assurance for imports of plants and produce and to protect our nation’s biosecurity. In line with HM Treasury rules, the Animal and Plant Health Agency recovers the cost of delivering these services from the businesses that use them. APHA regularly reviews its fees to ensure they are reflective of the cost of delivery and that they do not over-recover.

For goods imported from the EU, GB will be carrying out a phased implementation of import checks which will be aligned to the risks posed by different regulated commodities. Lower risk goods will receive a lower frequency of checks. Fees therefore need to be adapted to ensure there is no over-recovery of costs. We will begin charging for import services, on goods arriving from the EU, from 1April 2021. This will enable a more accurate calculation of the fees and will allow businesses and government to implement the change successfully.

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