Championing protected ornamental producers

neame lea nurseries, home grown, bpoa_35410So, what does a grower association affiliated to the NFU do for the ornamental horticulture industry?

It is always a challenge to fully align our priorities with those of the fruit and veg sector: getting people to fully appreciate the importance of freshness and quality outside of the edible produce sector is hard, no matter how much happiness ornamental plants bring.

But as a wise Chinese scholar one said, "when you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one, and a lily with the other."

Our remit is to ensure that we champion all the serious issues affecting British growers of protected ornamental plants, whether produced under simple glass or high tech plastic, as well as the needs of its allied trade members throughout this diverse area of horticulture.

The strengths of the association lie in the dedication of its technical committee, which aims to ensure that R&D priorities remain focused and relevant, and, in its marketing strategy, to help members businesses stay informed in what continues to be a challenging sector.

The BPOA's close relationship with the AHDB and ADAS ensure that the latest industry knowledge is shared with members, either online, via our newsletters, or at our annual conferences and technical seminar days.

It's never an easy task to try and be the voice of an entire industry and the BPOA recognises that there are always different views across its membership. Where it succeeds is through its tireless efforts to unite the industry through support of both regional and national events, such as promoting the industry through displays at the RHS shows and the Great Yorkshire show.

It also works with the NFU and its national horticulture board to lobby for change on political issues affecting all its members' day to day business activities: from plant health to supporting seasonal workers and the national living wage.

There has rarely been a more collaborative part of the industry.

This close working relationship between members means that as an organisation we strive to help navigate the challenges that the sector faces and regularly organise visits and study tours to seek out best practice at home and abroad.

Last year's study trip to the USA helped demonstrate how a very different approach to marketing can yield positive benefits to both growers and retailers alike. These learning will ensure that the industry continues to evolve and remain successful.

With the continued support of the NFU, this colourful part of the industry should be in a good position to rise up and face the coming challenges.

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