Growers offered help with 2013 contracts
UK horticulture and potato growers are being urged to brush up on their negotiating skills after many were ‘caught out’ by contracts last year.
The NFU said its recent Catalyst for Change report revealed many of its members felt dictated to by buyers on pricing decisions and often received contracts late in the season.
The union’s horticulture and potatoes adviser Lee Abbey, said growers would be given guidance on developing clear and transparent pricing formulas at the Grower Representative Summit next month.
NFU horticulture and potatoes board chairman Sarah Dawson said a challenging 2012 season had brought many issues to light.
She said: “Growers have been caught out by contracts that require them to fulfil volumes despite massively reduced yields and by pricing formulas that don’t respond to sharp increases in production costs.”
Mrs Dawson said now was the ideal time for growers to re-evaluate how they deal with their customers and take a closer look at the contracts they sign, including the way they are negotiated.
She added: “Growers’ customers are slowly starting to realise that they need to share the risks and the rewards of our unpredictable seasons.”
It comes after experts estimated the abysmal 2012 season left agriculture facing a £1.3m black hole.
Andrew Pimbley who grows mixed cereals, fruit and vegetables, with his family on the Wirral, said the wet weather had left many growers in a ‘miserable’ situation.
He said: “Last year was generally very depressing and meant we just couldn’t get on with anything. Yields are down by a quarter.”
Mr Pimbley said a ‘combination of conditions and events’ hampered the season.
“The asparagus suffered because of the cold weather and the cauliflowers didn’t even get going,” he added.
“On the other hand, we had a bumper strawberry crop for the PYO but no one wanted to come out and pick them.
“Shows such as the Wirral Food and Drink Festival also lost farmers a lot of money because of the wet weather. We got one day out of the two days but it was very quiet. We need a good Spring now or we will be in trouble.”