HTA Chairman celebrates efforts of 2020 and looks toward 2021

The Chairman of the Horticultural Trades Association has recognised the remarkable efforts of people in Britain’s horticultural industries and committed to getting straight back to business on their behalf in January 2021, urging the trade to do everything it can to be prepared for the new year in advance.

“As we reach the close of the year it feels important to reflect on just what an incredible challenge the last nine months have been,” said James Barnes.

“The industry has arguably had both the best and worst of times in one short time period. A disastrous start to the spring season, followed by the relief of seeing garden centres classified as essential retail and the huge growth in new gardeners, has been followed by uncertainty and concern as we face post-Christmas lockdown. Throughout it all, it’s been heartening to see people pulling together to support one another.

"The resilience and agility of the industry to cope with crisis and change has been immense. Notwithstanding the light at the end of the tunnel that the roll out of vaccinations has provided, the post- Covid, post-Brexit world will have brought some fundamental change to the way we all live, work and do business. Although such change may ultimately reveal itself over many months and years, 2021 is likely to require an even greater level of agility, resilience and innovation.

"Sustainability, the environment and climate change will regain their prominence on the agenda going forward and the HTA will be at the forefront of promoting the industry as a key deliverer of the ambitions here and as an engine for economic growth.

"I think we can take confidence that the future of our industry is bright and that we can have the plans, the resourcefulness and determination to capitalise on this.”

The HTA has been instrumental in engaging with government on the particulars of EU Exit and its impact on ornamental horticulture. These efforts have resulted in some wins, namely a four-hour deadline for inspections and rationalisation of the requirements for phytosanitary certificates. Concerns over fees were also heard and subsequently these are waived until April.

Mr Barnes pledged to continue efforts to secure other changes to new regulations by putting forward a six-point plan proposing modifications to the location of inspections, plant hierarchy and IT systems and engaging Government now and into 2021 with the aim of having a more efficient and cost-effective regime.

“Alongside the unprecedented effort and hard work that’s gone into navigating the fast-moving situation with Coronavirus, our members had to begin preparing for a new way of working from 1 January,” he said.

Urging businesses not to let this dissuade them from taking action, Mr Barnes reassured members, saying: “The HTA will resume our efforts to persuade government of the need for some changes and/or concessions to the areas of most concern, but we have to recognise that we have to do all we can to prepare in the meantime.”

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