Letter from Heather Godard-Key
To Julie Girling MEP seeking clarification on points raised in Robert Sturdy's reply
3rd December 2013
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    Dear Mrs Girling,

In recent weeks/days I am sure you have been bombarded with letters from angry gardeners and nurseries with regards to the EU regulations that are about to be debated. I know you have worked, and are still working hard on this issue and I hope that you have time to answer my question, or at least to put this to the relevant persons who are in a position to fundamentally change a large part of our national heritage, one of our favourite pass times and a massive sector of the UKs' national market. Everybody buys plants, either for themselves or for someone else. Does the EC really want to restrict this flow of business throughout Europe?

I have copied in two sentences in red from an email I have just received from one of your colleagues. Both of these sentences are relevant, the first to highlight the lack of understanding that there seems to be over the issue outside of our circle of business. The second to highlight what is clearly the intended subject matter of this proposal.

1. -
I have shared your comments with my Conservative colleague, Julie Girling, who is leading on this file. She has assured me that she will be working closely with the rapporteur of the file, Mr Silvestris, and the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. She is looking at amendments that will create exceptions for home gardeners to ensure that commercial gardening is distinguished from recreational gardening.

a.) Please can you tell me how commercial gardening is any different from recreational gardening?

a1.) Do you mean commercial gardeners = nurseries/growers? We are a nursery extremely specialised in several ornamental families of plant. Obviously commercial. Does this mean that we will be directly affected by these proposals? If so why? To who's benefit? Certainly not our customers who are the 'protected?' home gardeners...

a2.) Or are we talking about ornamental crops versus vegetable crops?

if a1 then please goto (b1)
if a2 then please goto (b2)

b.) What does this mean? Do home gardeners then become exempt from the restriction of selling unregistered plant material? Great! But, home gardeners are not in the habit of propagating and selling plant material, not in significant numbers.

b1.) Should Commercial growers not be covered by this exemption, home gardeners will have no access to said unregistered plant material to propagate and sell anyway, so what's the point of exempting one and not the other?

b2.) Ornamentals should be exempt from this proposal. It's as easy as that. There is no benefit to anyone if ornamentals are included in this proposal. Perhaps what is needed is a greater definition of the materials that this proposal covers, and quite frankly, dare I say it, in plainer English!

I can understand how the areas get a little blurred when it comes to vegetables. Please see below.

2. -
Personally, as a farmer and a former seed producer I certainly do not want to see the Commission closing off opportunities for any varieties of seed, including those produced by small agricultural businesses. Having diversity in seed types is vital for the overall biodiversity of our ecosystems and for cross-pollination. Rest assured that I and my Conservative colleagues will be working to insure that British gardeners, horticultural businesses and farmers get the best possible deal.

We can all see the sense in helping prevent a farmer from sowing several hundred acres of the wrong seed. That's fine. But what's that got to do with Roses, or Geraniums, or Deutzias etc..? What is being discussed here is Agriculture, not Horticulture.
We all understand that small businesses, gardeners (not just British I may add, this is Europe-wide, not just in the UK) should be and hopefully will be able to continue to grow the variety of plant material that is currently available by virtue of exempting them from these proposals.
Once again though, ornamentals, Pelargoniums, Ivy, Hostas, Ferns, Heucheras, Roses, trees, all of these plants and many, many thousands more - why should these be included in a proposed regulation that is meant to govern seed production and their resale for large farms?

So to summarise. Why are ornamentals being included in this proposal?

Yours sincerely,
Heather Godard-Key (Mrs)
For and on behalf of Fibrex Nurseries Ltd.

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