Brexit 'Soils' Future Plant Sales!
The full effects of the 'soft' Brexit agreement with Northern Ireland has produced shock waves at one of the U.K.'s major nurseries.
Johnsons of Whixley, who celebrate their 100th Anniversary this year, have previously sold around £500,000 worth of plants each year to customers in Northern Ireland. This has now been halted, because it grows those plants in British soil.
Ban on Imported Soil
To avoid a hard Irish border, the UK and EU agreed that Northern Ireland remains bound by many EU regulations, which include a ban on the import of soil.
Johnsons could continue to sell in Northern Ireland if it used concrete or plastic to keep plants from touching the soil but, says Jonathan Whittemore, the firm’s Head of Production, that would mean a “complete change” in its processes.
Plants may also be sold to Northern Ireland if they are grown in peat, therefore encouraging peat bogs to be stripped for horticulture, thus contributing to climate change.
Johnsons had grown a rare type of hedging 'to order' for a Northern Ireland customer. With that sale now impossible, Mr Whittemore expects that some of the plants will have to be disposed of.
Penalises UK Growers
Johnsons Head of Production and Procurement, Jonathan Whittemore (above) commented:
“This legislation penalises UK growers and gives an immediate competitive advantage to EU suppliers who may go on to monopolise supply into an existing part of the UK at the expense of our business and the wider industry.”
"The Brexit ‘project’ was meant to reduce red tape and bureaucracy and was surely not intended to penalise UK Suppliers and active Northern Ireland/UK customers. The restriction was designed to protect the wider EU Flora and Fauna, under this scenario there is ‘nil’ risk to the EU from Johnsons traditional supply into NI be it from our own production or ironically imports sourced in the EU and supplied into NI!”