With the UK now set to leave the EU (by a democratic and clear majority), is it time that the landscape and horticultural industries stepped up to the plate?

(I am not trying to start an argument whether it was right or wrong - that is now very much irrelevant).

Britain has been largely an import economy since before 1914, relying on large foreign investment in the empire or most recently the commonwealth for the stability of national income. However, that stability is now in question. The world has changed. The UK is in massive debt. Since we are no longer in a position of sovereign ownership of foreign lands and are leaving a large free-trading block for pastures new, we need to think beyond what we are used to.

The UK has many advantages which are currently underutilized.

1. Being an Island, we can be the go-to country for disease-free plants. With global warming and the spread of disease rife, by increasing regulation on plant control, we could be second to none. (We have the infrastructure, yet lack the investment).

2. Our research and development skills are world renowned. Technology, especially AI, is the way forward to push instead of a reliance on cheap foreign labour. Do companies like Dyson offer a viable alternative?

3. The UK is also world renowned for creativity and plant-husbandry. Many countries come to our shores for designers. Our education system is still free to 18, yet much of the industry refuses to engage in its success - instead relying on what is churned out and then complaining we can't find decent staff. (Me included).

4. We could export our expert knowledge to other countries, thus creating a viable 'economic colonisation', which is vital to future any UK success. 

5. Is horticulture a low skilled profession?


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  • PRO
    Why do we import so much through the Dutch?

    Forty five years ago, long before we joined the EU my dad and a mate of his built houses and did other building work for market gardeners across the top of Bromsgrove on the fringe of Birmingham. Back then one grower had already given up production to act as a handling facility for a Dutch importer servicing the Birmingham market and shops.

    • PRO

      Because the Dutch have totally and utterly beaten us to the punch. There was a fascinating article in last months NatGeo about how the Dutch have led the way with high tech greenhouses and research into plant breeding to become the most efficient growers in the world of many crops.

      This Tiny Country Feeds the World
      The Netherlands has become an agricultural giant by showing what the future of farming could look like.
  • There is a farmer down the road from me who is just started to grow cut flowers, the thought being that import duties will make it viable so it will be interesting to see how it works out.  

    In terms of being an Island nation we seem to allow loads of plants into the country and out disease control seems to be minimal.  Every week there's an article on how such and such disease is going to wipe everything out.

    In truth how Brexit is going to work out is a complete unknown.  The truth no two experts agree!  I was looking at the BBC news site today.  Yesterday the where predicting the end of Agriculture and today farmers are going to be growing more.  Our own industry is based on how well others are doing its almost a luxury item.  I guess if times get hard and we have a slow down then maybe that spend will reduce.  

    So i think that the question is are we already for a slow down because that's what's going to happen before brexit happens.  

    Yes horticulture is a very skilled profession and it would appear quite low paid.  Its also a very dedicated industry when Gardeners World visit growers their dedication, enthusiasm and knowledge always impress me.

  • Some detailed reports can be found here from the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board:

    Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) is a Levy Board which represents cattle, sheep, pigs, milk, potatoes, cereals, oilseeds and hor…
  • PRO

    The comparisons now being made are between the UK and New Zealand where state financial support for agriculture has been wiped out, sorting the men from the boys, as the saying goes.


    • I know a few farmers who tell me that there not that worried about loss of financial support.  Large landowners on the other hand like the National Trust are deeply worried.  The truth is Farming, Forestry and Horticulture have no real voice in the Government.  I read on Face book earlier in the summer that one man could have planted all the newly created woodland in the UK last year.  This is because of the way farmers receive their support.  We need joined up thinking across the 3 industries and a long term plan.  Some of these areas may need support to get off the ground.  

      • PRO
        Do you really think farmers and landowners have no voice in government?
        • Farmers no landowner yes.  Large land owners like the National Trust and the like of James Dyson who use there land owner ship to shield their estates from 40% inheritance tax and others like him have a big voice within the government.  A small family run farm has no voice.  

          • PRO
            Your contradicting yourself.
            Anyway that’s not the point.
            Small Tennant farmers have the deck stacked against them and that’s always been the case.
            Loss of subsidy would hurt for a short time but I think the market would just correct itself. Food is far too cheap and would rise in price.
            There would no doubt be some big problems were subsidies removed too quickly.
            I get my view from growing up on a farm and still having a lot to do with the community. We were close to going bankrupt on more than one occasion.
            • I should have said small farmers whether they are Tenants or landowners it is the larger non farming landowners that stand to be the real losers.   I also get my view from growing up on a farm and living within the same community now. 

              Although i'm not sure food will rise in price I suspect our Politicians will skillfully negotiate a deal where we have to pay massive export tariffs but anyone importing here will have to pay smaller. 

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