Kossoff on... presenting a united front

Over the past few weeks, I've been studying and writing about the concerns associated with applied research for the horticulture industry.

The problems are, to say the least, legion. But one of the problems is you.

You have unknowingly and unintentionally made it easy for successive governments to push you and your needs by the wayside.

In your actions, it's as if you keep forgetting that you're all part of the same industry. You see and speak of yourselves mutually exclusively. There are, of course, the size differences and retail versus growers.

Then add in ornamentals versus edibles and sectors within each of those categories becoming even more discrete, so that potatoes and brassicas seem never to meet — and forget about introducing one of those types to a pear or, heaven forbid, a flower.

That's what makes it easy for the Government to pick you off: you have no single, solid voice. Even the way that the Horticultural Development Company has been constructed from the original levy boards shows the way that the Government sees you. Individually. Mutually exclusive. Separate. And that means easy pickings.

You have to change that view. For your industry to get the support it needs — whether through more reasonable small and medium enterprise regulation, taxes and fees or for the applied research support necessary for you to exist into the future — you need to create one voice.

The best, fastest and easiest way to do so is through your trade and professional organisations.

Each of those entities — and their silos within them — should be coordinating their arguments and actions so that no matter which way any government department turns, they are consistently confronted by the same wall of support.

Only then will they listen. They'll have to.

As one voice, you represent far too many pounds — and votes — to ignore.

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


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