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Pinchbeck flower grower raises issues with MP

The challenges faced by growers in South Holland were raised with MP Sir John Hayes.

Sue Lamb, owner of Lambs Flowers, raised the issues faced by local firms with rural crime and labour shortages with Sir John during the visit to the Pinchbeck area business, which specialises in hydroponic tulips at this time of year.

While many growers have invested in mechanisation but some are still shorthanded following Brexit.

Sir John Hayes and Sue Lamb
Sir John Hayes and Sue Lamb

Mrs Lamb said: “Growers are already making decisions about what they plant and the supply of labour is already impacting those plans. British Growers Association data shows an average reduction of area by 9.2% across 11 crops, with some scrapping production altogether and others reducing by more than a third.

“Efficiency-boosting tech is still being developed and is likely to be unavailable for five more years. This could mean a three-year gap between the Government’s seasonal worker scheme ending and the technology being ready. It is also expensive, with machines to replace 16 workers costing £1m.

“Sir John said he is supportive of inclusive grants toward technology to assist investment in the ornamental sector and other businesses that face worker shortages.”

The National Living Wage for seasonal workers was discussed during the visit and the NFU has asked for this proposal to be delayed.

Sue said: “We now have just four weeks before the new rules are supposed to be implemented, but still have confusion and mixed messages from government.

“It is critical we get the Government to see sense and give priority to supporting home production before world trade deals.”

She also added: “We discussed the uncertainty faced by our farmers and growers with mixed messages received from the government. Sir John is supportive of a government strategy for food security, giving businesses confidence to invest in the future.”

NFU county adviser Johanna Musson also attended the meeting and raised the issues with rural crime.

She stated many farmers are still being terrorised by hare coursers locally.

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