Select Committee on Agriculture Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by the Chairman, Johnsons of Whixley Ltd (D 13)

  I have had an excellent working relationship with Stockbridge House for the past 43 years on crops ranging from rhubarb to salads and nursery stock.

  I find the proposed demise of this highly efficient and well respected HRI facility quite inconceivable. In the last two years I have visited growers in many EC countries and have become extremely concerned at the overall support for growers in these countries, and the problems for British growers in competing with increased competitor technology in addition to the adverse effect of the high value of sterling.

  The survival of the SOLA system is essential to nursery stock growers who grow an extremely wide range of plants in limited numbers. We are very concerned that HRI will be unable to provide safe pesticides from a significantly reduced facility. We are fully aware that our requirements and concerns are mirrored throughout the different sectors of horticulture.

  It is difficult to believe that HRI can afford the loss of highly skilled and motivated scientific staff who almost without exception have developed relationships with the industry which will take years to re-establish. Even worse, there can be little motivation for the best young scientists to enter horticultural research in view of the growing reputation for cut-backs and redundancies.

  As a company we find the proposal to close Stockbridge House to be totally unacceptable and a serious retrograde step in the development of an internationally competitive horticultural industry.

17 November 2000

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