One of Herefordshire’s leading farmers gave evidence this week to the European Parliament’s Agriculture and Rural Development Committee on the issues facing the horticulture industry.

Anthony Snell of Herewood End, who is also Vice-Chairman of the NFU Horticulture Board, was invited to Brussels by local MEP Anthea McIntyre to a special hearing considering the future of Europe's Horticulture sector.

During his  detailed presentation, Mr Snell explained that the West Midlands produces 13% of the UK’s potatoes, 20% of its soft fruit, 35% of its blackcurrants, 60% of its cider apples and 65% of its asparagus and that half of the total production came from Herefordshire.

The West Midlands horticulture sector is worth some €350 million at the farm gate, which is more than either the dairy or cereal sectors.

Mr Snell expressed his optimism for the sector’s future but cautioned that climate change and the issues around water security could not be overlooked.

He also called upon the EU to base decisions such as the two-year ban on the use of neonicitinoides on hard scientific evidence rather than emotion.

Summing up the evidence presented by Mr Snell and other industry experts, Anthea McIntyre stressed the need for research and development work undertaken by various bodies to be translated into practical applications that the sector’s farmers can use.

She also urged the industry to work harder to demonstrate the varied career opportunities that horticulture offers:  “There is tremendous potential for our brightest and best young people to make a great career in horticulture but, like much of the farming industry, more needs to be done to highlight those opportunities.”

(Photo shows (l to r) Julie Girling MEP, Anthony Snell, Anthea McIntyre MEP, Richard Ashworth MEP and Jim Nicholson MEP following Mr Snell’s evidence to the European Parliament’s Agriculture & Rural Development Committee.)