Martin Emmett re-elected national Horticulture and Potatoes Board chair

Tim Rooke, Martin Emmett and Stephen Shields

Photograph: Tim Rooke, Martin Emmett and Stephen Shields

Martin Emmett has been re-elected chair of the NFU’s national Horticulture and Potatoes Board.

Martin is a director of Tristram Plants, part of the Farplants co-operative which grows and markets over 2,000 plant varieties and generates more than £50 million annual sales through retail. He was first elected chair of the board in 2022.

He said: “It’s brilliant to be re-elected as chair and I appreciate the unanimous support from the board at such an important time for our sector.

“I’m pleased with the new constitution on the board as we’re now well balanced regionally with representatives for the first time from the South West.

“It is vital that we work together to raise the voices of members from across the country, particularly as we face into a general election year.

“The most immediate issue for me is the outstanding uncertainty of the Seasonal Workers Scheme. The situation right now is not tenable for growing businesses and there will be consequences to next years’ production.

“The introduction of the Border Target Operating Model is also another issue that we will be looking at and working towards better options for horticulture businesses.

“I’d like to thank Derek for his work as vice chair of the board and I look forward to working with the two new vice chairs, Stephen and Tim, going forward.”

It is vital that we work together to raise the voices of members from across the country, particularly as we face into a general election year.

NFU Horticulture and Potatoes Board chair Martin Emmett

Martin will be supported by two vice chairs – Stephen Shields and Tim Rooke.

Stephen is Technical Director for Huntapac Produce Ltd.

A fourth generation family-owned business based in Southport, Huntapac supplies the major retailers with root vegetables, salads and brassicas. Stephen has been with the business since 2012, but his career in fresh produce spans over 16 years and a total of 32 years in the food industry.

Exciting opportunity to drive innovation and sustainability

Stephen said: “I’m delighted to be elected as vice chair and I look forward to working with Martin, Tim and the board to raise the awareness of the work we’re doing for growers.

“Our sector has an exciting opportunity to drive innovation and sustainability, adopting new tech and helping to meet the industry’s net zero by 2040 targets and the government’s own statuary target.

“To do this though we need to ensure that we are building profitability into our businesses and giving growers the confidence to invest.”

Tim, who will remain chair of the NFU’s Potato Policy Group, is a third generation farmer who grows 600 acres of processing and crisping potatoes in Ryedale, North Yorkshire.

He farms in partnership with his brother and has a mixture of tenanted and owned farms. He also grows wheat, oats, and oilseed rape.

Climate change a key issue

Tim said: “The horticulture and potatoes sector in the UK is a brilliant one and I’m excited about the opportunity to work with Martin and Stephen over the next two years.

“As we’re seeing across the country at the moment with the devastating wet weather, climate change is a key issue for our sector, the impacts of which are hitting farmers and growers at a time when our input costs are still high.

“It is vital that farmers are getting a fair return and the risk is shared and this will be a key area for the board to take forward.”

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