I'm delighted to have been elected as Chair of the new All-Party Parliamentary Group for Fruit and Vegetable Farming.
Ever since I was first elected as an MP I have wanted to set up this group. Agriculture is vital to Faversham and Mid Kent. Our famous fruit and hop farms shape the local countryside and make it the Garden of England we love. Farmers also make a significant contribution to our local economy and are crucial to our tourism and food and drink industries.
That said, fruit and vegetable growers do face a unique set of challenges, and I am keen to make sure these are represented in Parliament. The group will bring together MPs and Peers with an interest in the industry, helping to promote the voice of local farmers and consumers in Parliament.
The inaugural meeting was held in the Palace of Westminster on Monday 31 October. Other members include Kent MPs Tom Tugendhat, Gordon Henderson and Helen Grant.
The meeting was attended by Members of the House of Commons and Members of the House of Lords. Matt Warman MP, Gordon Henderson MP, Pete Wishart MP and Kerry McCarthy MP were elected as Vice-Chairs. The group heard a presentation from Ali Capper, Chair of the NFU’s Horticulture and Potatoes Board, outlining the challenges facing fruit and vegetable farmers over the coming years.
The Group will campaign on the priorities of the fruit and vegetable industry after Brexit. This includes making sure that Britain remains a welcoming place for seasonal workers, reducing some of the bureaucracy involved in employing seasonal workers and guaranteeing that farmers will continue to be supported for the work they do protecting the environment.