Council will aim to unite hort... yet again

Council will aim to unite horticulture... yet again


The National Farmers' Federation has established the Horticulture Council. But does horticulture need yet another "unifying body"?



COLLABORATION - It's one of those buzzwords that's been so used in recent years it's almost become annoying.

Collaboration is something, however, the horticulture industry has increasingly taken seriously in recent times.

The latest incarnation of this is the launch of the Horticulture Council by the National Farmers' Federation.

There's something important to note there in the title of the national organisation - the apostrophe after "Farmers".

It indicates possession which is something to keep in mind.

The federation essentially belongs to farmers, and while that may have traditionally been broadacre growers and livestock producers (although some cattle and sheep folk tend to shy away from "farmer" as a label), it should encapsulate farmers of horticulture crops as well.

The question does arise though: Why is there a need for the Horticulture Council after the establishment and launch (to much fanfare in 2015, including a Canberra launch) of the Voice of Horticulture (VoH)?

Wasn't it meant to be the all-uniting body to present the issues to Canberra? It is now a member of the new Horticulture Council.

In a statement on the new Horticulture Council, VoH chair, Tania Chapman, stressed that: “As the new council will be focussed on policy that affects all of Australian agriculture, in no way will it diminish the complete focus that the Voice of Horticulture has on all of horticulture issues across our sector, including trade market access, biosecurity, immigration and employment and skills education and training.”

The VoH represents 21 industry groups. That grew to 28 members at one point, but has since reduced.

Ausveg was a latecomer to the party in 2016 having initially said the year before it wouldn't join.

Now it seems Ausveg is no longer a member (again) as per the current VoH website. Perhaps becoming a player in the new Horticulture Council was the preferred option.

But all that aside, this has to be a positive step forward for the industry.

A figure of $11 billion is generally thrown around as the value of both the production and ornamental horticulture sectors.

That's some serious coin that should make politicians and big business sit up.

The pressure must surely be on vegetablesWA, FruitWest, the Horticulture Coalition of SA, the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association, Fruit Growers Tasmania, NT Farmers, as well as other groups, to get onboard.

That would bolster the ranks and impact the new organisation as a representative power.

So while collaboration might becoming something of a cringe-worthy term at conferences and workshops, the simple fact is that it needs to happen. 

It's about pooling resources and working together to propel forward the greatest of all the agriculture sectors - horticulture. 

(You probably won't hear the NFF say that last line out loud, but give it time.) 


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