b'have been exempted from this obligation as they are consideredand retail chains like supermarkets and garden centres all over essential to guarantee the supply of food and for the care of allEurope cancel contracts for bedding plants. This has an imme-the animals. From the beginning, the related agri-food chainsdiate effect on the planting materials sector.have also been included in this derogation, including suppliersChallenges in vegetable and field crop seeds relate more of goods and services for these activities. The seed business thusto transport and workers. Road transport faces challenges at came under this derogation. Therefore, our seed companies haveborders and is related to shortages of drivers and provisions for been able to continue working, albeit with reduced operationssuch drivers when highway restaurants are closed. Hundreds and with the adoption of every possible form of security. of trucks are on the road until mid-April for seed potato alone; There are still several critical issues that we are facing. similarly, young vegetable plants are on their way to customers The main one concerns transport. The Italian govern- all over Europe. We are very happy that the EU included all ment has recently specified that the goods can circulate on theagricultural supplies in the Green Lane procedure on March 23, national territory without limitations. The problem is that withincluding also cross border transport of essential workers. That the outbreak of the pandemic, the number of drivers willing tolast aspect is very important as well, since seasonal workers are travel to certain areas of the country and abroad in certain coun- important in both horticultural production and also the seeds tries, has drastically reduced, so shipments have slowed down. and planting materials sector.We then had to face the limitations imposed by other EUChallenges with air freight are quickly increasing, both for and non-EU countries (Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Romania,bringing in raw seed from the production locations to the ware-Bulgaria, Poland, Ukraine and Russia to name a few). In somehouse, and for supplying our customers all over the world. It is an cases (Austria and Slovenia), thanks to the intervention of ourinteresting and new experience for us to connect with hitherto government, the situation seems to be resolved, in others thereunknown partners in the transport and logistics associations.are still serious difficulties. The support of Euroseeds in theseImportant for the sector is an early declaration of our phy-cases is needed! tosanitary and seed quality authorities, that they considered Other critical issues concern seed support services. Theseeds as a priority, and that as much as possible, the operations structures that deal with seed certification and phytosanitarywill be upheld. There are challenges however, for inspectors and control also work at a reduced regime, with few active staff.laboratory workers, whose health should not be at risk.The laboratories that perform the analyses undergo significantPlantum is part of a crisis team consisting of all horticul-delays and the structures that must issue certifications are inture organisations and with active participation of the ministry, difficulty. As Assosementi, we urged the Ministry of Agriculturemeeting every day at 9 am in a conference call. We have already to consider the possibility of authorizing self-certification andprepared forms for companies to declare damages and we are self-sampling by seed companies.awaiting government decisions about increasing credit facilities.Condensed interview with Alberto Lipparini,We also aim to provide a safety net for companies, and we dis-Secretary-GeneraloftheItalianSeedAssociationcuss issues of transport, workforce and communication. Also, ASSOSEMENTI, date 21 March 2020 at the field crops side, connections with the main cooperatives, processing industry and the ministry are well organized.Already before the crisis team was established, workers in STATUS THE NETHERLANDS the seed sectorat least for field crops and vegetableswere included in the crucial workforce definition, which allowed them We have adapted to working from home; no health problems into get childcare, while schools are closed.the teamI hope it will stay that way. However, I have to say,So, everybody is working hard to supply seeds for the cur-just like the disease itself, the situation can change every day. rent growing seasons. In some crop groups, especially for fresh The sector in The Netherlands is very diverse. The orna- product exports, we expect smaller acreages planted and thus mentals sector is hard hit. The famous flower auction is cur- smaller sales at this moment. Whether COVID-19 will result in a rently destroying some 80% of its produce because it is not soldshakeout of less resilient growers, thus affecting our customer 44IEUROPEAN SEEDIEUROPEAN-SEED.COM'