Select Committee on Agriculture Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by Lea Valley Growers' Association (D 37)

  This Association is a local specialist glasshouse branch of the National Farmers' Union, having in its membership some two hundred growers of horticultural crops, almost entirely under glass, covering some 225 acres in the Lea Valley which lies on the border between the counties of Hertfordshire and Essex.

  The principal crops grown in the Lea Valley are salads, especially cucumbers and lettuces, but there are also significant acreages of ornamental crops—bedding & pot plants, aquatics, and cut flowers.

  Our glasshouse grower members have reacted with alarm at the re-structuring proposals of HRI, and in particular the proposal for the closure of Stockbridge House in Yorkshire. This station's work has been particularly relevant to the Lea Valley, since it has majored in cucumbers, which is by far the principal crop in this area. The glasshouse industry needs research and development, and the glasshouse grower needs that R&D to be transferred into technological advance on the nursery. Stockbridge House has been a major force in technology transfer, and its closure will have a dramatic effect on such transfer.

  Our grower Members are also very concerned at the consequences of the re-structuring proposals on the Specific Off-Label Approval programme. The SOLA programme is essential for glasshouse growers, and we seriously wonder whether HRI will be able in the future to deliver an effective SOLA programme.

  We urge HRI to re-consider its proposals and to seek more positive ways to restructure its operation. The future of the UK glasshouse industry may depend on it.

29 November 2000

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