The impact from COVID and a government review of how cider is taxed was the focus for Simon Jupp’s visit to Darts Farm. Simon met with Sandford Orchards owner Barny Butterfield, Michael Dart from Darts Farm and Mark Hopper from the National Association of Cider Makers (NACM) at a public event held by Darts Farm.
After being given a tour of Darts Farm’s new restaurant & cidery, The Farm Table, and learning more about the cider industry, Simon listened to concerns about cider makers’ tanks remaining largely blocked with the 2019 and 2020 harvests, which may need to be destroyed to make way for this year’s apple harvest. Worse still, was the fear that without support, decades old cider apple orchards may vanish from the countryside. The impacts of the numerous COVID lockdowns, pubs, bars shut and cancelled festivals over the last 12 months, has left some apple growers and cider makers in a perilous position.
“Cider makers are asking for much needed support to allow them to recover from the impact of COVID and for the government to keep their pledge to reduce red tape for business,” said Mark Hopper NACM. “The Treasury review into how cider and other alcoholic beverages are taxed is an opportunity to provide much needed support for our industry, but cider makers are concerned about more complexity and added cost.”
Barny Butterfield said: “This year has tested so many businesses like ours, our loss has also been felt across the industry, with apple growers and pubs feeling the hurt even more keenly than ourselves. We are grateful to have survived the year, the next few years as the industry rebuilds will be critical and we need sympathetic support from our government to survive in the long term.”
“This part of Devon has an unrivalled history in cider making and folklore,” said Michael Dart, Director of Darts Farm. “We’re proud to support independent producers and during the pandemic we launched ‘Save our Cidermakers’, which helped to engage the public with the challenges faced by these producers. But there is so much more that is needed. Recently, we hosted our Franklin’s night feast where we enjoyed an evening celebrating cider’s rich history in our county, as well as the importance of cider to our identity and our future. We call on our government to protect this unique Devonshire industry for all of us.”
Barny Butterfield said: “Cider making depends on locally grown apples, but these orchards take the best part of a decade to reach full crop and can’t just be turned on and off to suit demand. After a very difficult year, we urgently need support to ensure that capacity is opened up and cider apple growers are able to sell their 2021 crop this autumn.
”Speaking after the visit, Simon Jupp said: “It’s great to see a prominent Devon business continue to be optimistic after such a challenging year. Cider duty was once again frozen in this year’s Budget to help support the hospitality sector and the wider supply chain. I will continue to support cider makers in East Devon and NACM to help champion and promote a level playing field for the industry.”