The National Farmers’ Union has abolished the Joint Hardy Nursery Stock Committee.
The announcement came last week at the JHNSC meeting and the official reason is that it is part of the union’s restructuring and cost-cutting programme. The news has caused upset in the industry, as it leaves the union without direct representation in the nursery stock sector and the future of the Contact nursery show uncertain.
Joint managing director of Yorkshire-based Johnsons of Whixley Andrew Richardson sits on the JHNSC. “The NFU now has very little to offer growers and we will be left high and dry. We are members but we get nothing, as even the NFU Mutual insurance is no longer competitive. We get far more out of our membership of the Horticultural Trades Association, even though we pay less in membership fees.”
Owner of Greenfingers (Kenilworth) Alan Beaumont, who is also a member of both organisations and JHNSC chairman, agreed: “The benefits of NFU membership are not very tangible and I think members will review the situation and vote with their feet by not renewing membership.”
Richardson added: “Graham Ward, who chairs the NFU’s horticulture board, said that the horticulture issue groups set up to examine elements of the industry will still cover ornamentals, but it leaves a big gap.”
It has been suggested that the HTA’s ornamentals committee will take over the activities of the hardy nursery stock committee.
HTA director general David Gwyther said: “We’ll continue to work with the union through our representatives on its horticulture issue groups and regular meetings with the horticultural board.
“We will also look at taking any other issues from the JHNSC agenda into the HTA’s ornamentals committee. This is now established as a representative voice for growers. The committee will consider the situation when it meets next week.”
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