One of the great strengths of our Union comes from how long it’s been fighting for farmers and growers.
More than a century of representing what I passionately believe to be one of the most important sectors in British industry means we have a deep and very long memory as an organisation and have developed clear senses of both purpose and identity.
But longevity is not inertia. We live, and have always lived, in a changing world. Farmers and growers need nobody to tell them about change, its pressures and just how rapidly it can develop.
Throughout its long and proud history, the NFU has changed to meet the challenges of the day, and to ensure it was fit for whatever tomorrow might bring.
NFU council vote for change
With that in mind, in January the NFU Council voted to make some important changes to our organisation to ensure it remains fighting fit for the years ahead and continues to be able to represent, defend and support its members brilliantly.
You can find out more about the the new regional structure here, and take a look at the four directors who will lead those regions.
I wanted to take the opportunity to talk briefly about what the NFU Review 2023 will achieve for our members, and why it’s important. You’ll hear more about different aspects of the review in the coming months, but I’d like to look at the ‘big picture’ here.
'County is king'
“Throughout its long and proud history the NFU has changed to meet the challenges of the day, and to ensure it was fit for whatever tomorrow might bring.”
NFU President Minette Batters
So, what’s it all about? The headlines of the review are clear, and they’re about member engagement and representation, organisational agility and good financial stewardship.
We use the phrase ‘county is king’ often when discussing these changes, with the move to four regions strengthening the organisation’s connection with the members for whom it works and boosting their voices in our democracy.
The review will also reinforce the importance of our Commodity Boards and bolster their roles, as well as seeing the introduction of Communities to make sure that our members’ experience and expertise have a real, tangible effect on our policy and decision making.
Harnessing the power
In the simplest terms, an individual member of the NFU should feel they have a stronger voice in future, are more involved in the Union if they wish to be and are better informed about its plans and activities.
All of this is also about making sure that every penny of members’ subs is working hard for them, and ensuring that the NFU remains financially strong and stable for the long term. That means being as efficient as we can be, avoiding duplication and, crucially, having the structures and systems in place to deliver the best possible impact.
The NFU is only as strong as its members, and that’s as true now as it was at the start of the 20th century when we were formed. I’m confident that the 2023 review gives us a chance to harness that power anew for the years ahead.