Bill Wiggin has attended an event at Westminster celebrating and supporting West Midlands’ horticultural sector.
A selection of farmers met to discuss the findings of a ground-breaking report into regional produce. ‘Getting to the Heart of Horticulture’ was composed by The European Food & Farming Partnership (EFFP), in combination with an industry steering group, and funded by DEFRA.
Senior Ministers were in attendance alongside NFU Deputy President Meurig Raymond and regional NFU horticulture chairman Stephen Watkins.
Herefordshire itself was brilliantly represented by six top producers: Orgasmic Cider, Wye Valley Brewery, Chinn-Chinn, Pixley Berries, EC Drummond & Son and Weston’s Cider.
Speaking afterwards Bill commented,
‘I am so proud of Herefordshire’s contribution to West Midland horticulture and agriculture. These producers are champions. We are an important, significant and a dominant force in the region’s horticultural industry: producing top quality, seasonal and sustainable food and drink is a basic part of everyday life.
Yet rising input costs, excessive red-tape and diminishing profit margins are always a risk to local enterprises.
Today’s report highlights the challenges and opportunities facing this vital sector. By getting the facts straight we are much better positioned take things forward and keep British growers in business.’
The DEFRA-funded study concluded that, whilst horticulture uses just 3 per cent of the West Midland’s agricultural land, it contributes more than 21 per cent of the value of the region’s agricultural output.
Horticulture alone provides employment for over 6,000 full time workers and 7,000 part time equivalents in the West Midlands – with many more jobs generated further up the supply chain.