Kossoff on ... using the industry's political capital

No matter how they turned out, the election results were never going to make a substantive difference to your industry after its 20-plus-year trajectory in the same direction. It has always been on you to make that difference - and now you can, in a clear, compelling way.

That is because the opportunity exists right now for you to change the understanding of the sector so that it is seen for what it is: an economic engine and a societal necessity.

When politicians and civil servants think "horticulture", they do not think about the technology with which you work or the new developments - from machinery to software to chemicals - that you need. Neither do they think about the jobs you offer, nor those that need to be created in the sector. Nor about the percentage you add to gross domestic product.

That does not get close to what the sector could add with the right legislation and support. Add to that the costs and risks of the degradation and wastage of land and water, and you have a compelling argument.

It is time to use that political capital, especially because both coalition parties need to look better than best in the run-up to the next election. There is nothing more important to the political class than the economy. The pressure is on every MP to find ways to add to growth and to reduce the deficit.

You are part of that deal. You can give them exactly what they need in form and substance, economically and socially. Because while you are creating a safe and secure future for the country, you are expanding the sector - on the land and in the laboratories - so that existing businesses grow, opportunities arise, new technologies are created and domestic and export markets are expanded.

The more the industry speaks as one voice - with that clear, compelling message of economic benefit - the more the powers that be will listen. Make that argument now, because now is when you can win.

Leslie Kossoff is an executive adviser specialising in strategy and corporate turnaround.

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