Change is often a catalyst for reflection as well as foresight and planning, writes Phil Ingleby, Senior Group Secretary at South Holland branch of the NFU.
The recent retirement of my fellow NFU secretaries Steve Barber and Diane Hunt prompted me to consider how the number of NFU members had changed over the 25 years that we worked together. Records indicate that back in 1991 there were in excess of 400 full farming members in South Holland branch. Branch meetings were a regular part of the agenda for disseminating information, as there were precious few mobile phones and no social media or email. Much of our time was taken advising members on a wide and varied range of topics.
Over recent years farms and nurseries have amalgamated and this has naturally led to a decline in NFU numbers. While taking stock and considering plans for how I will lead the branch going forward, it is reassuring to know that there still remains just shy of 300 members in the branch. A good healthy number and still the largest NFU branch in the East Midlands, and indeed much of the country. The small handful of farms that remain outside of the NFU are certainly in the minority.
Looking ahead, Andrew and I have an opportunity to review both how we operate and how we can best serve the needs of the farming and growing community locally. We are keen to obtain feedback on this and we are hoping for your input, as well as continued support as we step into the next 25 years!