Horticulture and Brexit – where next?

The All Party Parliamentary Group for Horticulture and Gardening (APPGHG) is a cross-party group for MPs and peers interested in gardening and supporting the horticulture industry*. In 2018 the APPGHG undertook an inquiry into the future of the industry in light of Brexit. This was held over three sessions in parliament.

The APPGHG launched a report on 29 October outlining nine recommendations (three in each of three key areas) to Government to support the industry:

1) Incentivising UK production, biosecurity and trade

There is a unique opportunity post-Brexit to increase UK plant production and replace the £300 million we import every year. Investment and sector incentives to drive import substitution would offer economic growth and mitigate against the biosecurity risks of importing. To safeguard against future outbreaks of disease, the sector would also benefit from a Government-backed plant health assurance scheme and improved plant health legislation. The Group recommends that the Government should:
  • Work with the sector to develop a plant health standard
  • Review plant health legislation for Brexit
  • Invest in and implement an Investment Incentive Scheme

2) Nurturing innovation to support health and the environment

Horticulture is vital in our society; supporting healthy lives and protecting our environment. Further horticultural scientific research and development is needed to quantify the benefits of horticultural interventions and evidence how to exploit these opportunities. Greater research and development would also enable the sector to better implement innovative practices and technologies to support import substitution, improve pest resilience, and tackle air pollution and climate change. The Group recommends that the Government should:
  • Adopt new data quantifying the size of the horticulture sector
  • Consider providing matched funding for horticultural science research and development projects
  • Consider horticulture in policy making relating to health and the environment

3) Training the future workforce and seasonal worker availability

The importance of training up a highly skilled workforce and retaining the sector’s access to seasonal workers cannot be underestimated. Horticulture offers a wide range of training and career opportunities but is often considered a second-rate option. The sector also relies heavily on seasonal labour, but availability is under pressure and at risk of being exacerbated by Brexit. The sector is subsequently suffering from a severe skills gap, with knock-on effects for our economy and environment. The Group recommends that the Government should:
  • Work with the sector to promote horticulture as a desirable industry to enter
  • Adequately fund Further Education in horticulture to ensure consistent delivery of quality training
  • Expand the Seasonal Workers Pilot to include ornamental horticulture
Download the report: 730kb pdf opens in a new window*About the APPGHG – the RHS is one of five industry sponsors, alongside the Horticultural Trades Association, the Arboricultural Association, the British Association of Landscape Industries and the Landscape Show who regularly meet with parliamentarians and undertake activities to promote the work of the industry and tackle policy challenges.



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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.