‘The tide is turning’ for horticulture sector

23 January 2024

Martin Emmett

Martin Emmett

NFU Horticulture and Potatoes Board chair

A photo of NFU Chief Horticulture & Potatoes Advisor, Lee Abbey and NFU Horticulture & Potatoes Board chair, Martin Emmett.

In this latest piece, NFU Horticulture and Potatoes Board chair Martin Emmett reflects on the last four years as part of the board and its achievements in keeping the sector high on the agenda. 

Having nearly completed four years on the NFU Horticulture & Potatoes Board, and the last two years as its chair, I have a greater appreciation of the value of the NFU than ever before.

No other farming association can boast the level of skill and experience both from its national and regional staff, and from the many members who give their time to ensuring the wider membership is so brilliantly represented. The NFU Horticulture & Potatoes board is a case in point.

Having to represent the most diverse sector of farming is no easy task, yet we have members from right across the full spectrum of horticultural businesses, all pulling in the same direction and ensuring that the key issues facing our sector are being raised at the very highest level within government and the supply chain.

‘The tide has started turning in our favour’

Of course, influencing politicians and big retailers or processors is incredibly challenging. It is not a case of they who shout the loudest. It can take months or even years to secure what we believe is needed to deliver confidence and growth for our sector, and we are often fighting against a political tide, especially on sensitive matters such as immigration or pesticides.

But the tide has started turning in our favour in the last couple of years. The profile of the horticulture sector is as high as I’ve known it to be, with the Government Food Strategy, the No.10 Farm to Fork Summit, and the House of Lords and EFRA committee reviews all demonstrating a desire to support horticulture sector growth.

The NFU Horticulture Growth Strategy, published last spring and due to be updated and relaunched next month, played a key part in raising the profile even further. With a general election looming, now is the perfect time to press ahead with our agenda.

Help shape future policy on the Horticulture and Potatoes board

We have been very fortunate to have always had such a high calibre of members joining the board, reflecting all sectors and sizes of business, but it remains critically important that we have suitable succession and can attract engaged and politically astute members who can bring a fresh perspective to our work.

This year’s appointment process has just been launched and I would encourage members to give thoughtful consideration to applying ahead of the deadline of 18th February, and in helping us secure more important wins for our members in the years ahead.

Find out more information on how to become a member of the NFU Horticulture & Potatoes board here.

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