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All growers, traders and users of plants, trees, hedging and shrubs should be aware of imminent changes to the legislation affecting the growing, marketing and procurement of many species of plants, as a result of two major reviews of all EU legislation on Plants, Seeds and Propagating Material (including FRM) and Plant Health legislation.
The Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) and the Confederation of Forest Industries (Confor) have been heavily involved with this review through their representation on the European Forest Nursery Association (EFNA) and European Nursery Stock Association (ENA). As much practical, technical and realistic influence as possible has been brought to bear on the European Commission, with the recent EFNA annual general meeting having a very successful face to face discussion with Eric Poudelet, Director Safety of the Food Chain in DG Sanco, the person ultimately responsible for the revision, to understand and explore both parties' issues.
The European Commission has a mandate under the Treaty of Lisbon to simplify existing legislation and to create a level playing field across all EU member states. The potential impact on the industry is in an increase in Plant Health and FRM Fees. With 'Full Cost Recovery' being one of the main drivers of the review, costs will inevitably be passed down to the plant user. Any further direct impacts of the review cannot be assessed until the first draft of the new Regulation has been published, hopefully in July
The HTA and ConFor have been working closely with FERA and the UK Forestry Commission to protect the industry's interests since the review of the EU plant health regime was first announced. The HTA has been invited to join Defra's new UK-wide Strategic Advisory Forum to guide plant health policy in light of the impending changes. UK representatives on EFNA and ENA have also maintained close contact with DG Sanco. Most recently, EFNA has managed to get DG Sanco's agreement to keep the FRM legislation as a separate Annexe in the Regulation and not allow it to be mixed up with agricultural legislation.
Member of the HTA Tree and Hedging Group and UK representative on EFNA, Jamie Dewhurst comments, "We are under no illusion that this could potentially have a significant impact on the cost of plants to the end user although we are hopeful that the hard work put in by both the HTA and CONFOR over the last few months will go some way to limiting the effect. We look forward to seeing the first draft when we will be in a better position to ascertain the potential impact."
For more information about the HTA, please visit www.the-hta.org.uk