Growing pains of cheaper imports

Giuseppe Barone, of Zenith Nurseries, near Evesham, grows salads, tomatoes, courgettes and coriander on his 130-acre farm.

Originally from Sicily, Mr Barone emigrated to the UK to be an engineer but set up his farm 20 years ago.

He sells his vegetables to distribution centre Planet Produce, but rising costs of fuels, pesticides and labour, coupled with competition from cheap imports, has made life hard.

The prices of produce have changed little in the past ten years while growing costs have spiralled. Competition from cheaper imports has also impacted on business.

Yet Mr Barone, who runs the farm with his son Franco, is grateful he has a relationship with Planet Produce, which guarantees him an avenue to sell his produce ? something he claims supermarkets cannot always do.

?I am interested in the growing side of things rather than selling, we haven?t got time to sell so we can leave that to Planet Produce. We can agree on a price and it is nice to have that relationship,? he said.

As well as dealing with rising costs, Mr Barone also has another, more unpredictable obstacle ? the British weather.

?It went too hot and then too cold this year which has affected everybody, not just us.

?Labour has gone up, and the cost of fertiliser has risen by 35 per cent, but there is nothing we can do about it.

?In this country growers are not sticking together, they just try and knife each other in the back. What the French do is get together and demand certain prices and fight for their living.?

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