E.coli O157 & Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome

British growers suffer significant losses

4th July 2011

With the wholesale market for salad crops effectively collapsing and growers forced to dump high quality produce by the truckload, it is becoming clear that Germanys E.coli outbreak will end up costing the British horticulture industry millions of pounds.

Based on evidence provided to the NFU by individual member businesses, producer organisations and marketing organisations, total losses for growers to date is already estimated to stand at 2.5 million and the situation is worsening.

Horticulture and Potatoes Board chairman Sarah Pettitt said "The situation for British growers has deteriorated significantly in the last week, as hundreds of tonnes of top quality British cucumbers, lettuces, leafy salads, peppers and tomatoes have either been dumped, ploughed-in or sold at prices way below the cost of production."

There have been unprecedented falls in wholesale market prices as a huge influx of surplus cucumbers, lettuces and tomatoes from the EU have flooded British markets.

Some growers are now beginning to question how much longer their businesses can sustain such big losses.

Dacian Ciolos, the EU Agriculture Commissioner, has offered 201 million euros of EU funds to compensate the huge losses of producers as a result of the E.coli outbreak.

Member State representatives voted recently on the Commissions compensation package proposals, which are set to come into force by the end of the month.

Ms Pettitt continued,  "We want to make sure that Government is clear on the full extent of the impacts on British growers and ensure that they get their fair share of any compensation package that is available to them."

Were in discussions with the RPA and Defra regarding the practicalities of implementing the Commissions compensation package proposals. Most importantly, we want to identify the simplest process possible for British growers to make potential claims for compensation.

In the meantime our on-going message to consumers is buy British, and look for the Red Tractor on the food you buy to guarantee that it has come from farms that are independently inspected to the highest standards of quality, hygiene and traceability.

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