27 March 1998

How to make the union more relevant body

PLANS to make the NFU more relevant and to encourage more members to participate in the organisation will be presented to union council later this year.

A working party has been established, led by potato committee chairman, Richard Watson-Jones, and it will present recommendations in October.

Mr Watson-Jones told council last week that the working party, all members of which are under 45 years old, would look at:

lNFU meetings from branch to presidential level.

lCommittee meetings, including the structure and relevance of each committee.

lDemocracy and how to get the best people to represent members.

He added that the union increas-ingly found it had to respond quickly to government consultations. So the working party would consider how best that could be achieved.

"We have no preconceived ideas and we are still very much at the information-gathering stage," Mr Watson-Jones said. "As a group we have met twice so far. We will be going out to branch and county meetings to seek ideas from members and talk to them," he added.

A phone survey of existing union members had been commissioned. "And we will follow that up with a survey of non-members," he said.

One need already identified was to encourage those aged 25-35 to participate more in union activities.

NFU president, Ben Gill said: "We have an undoubted amount of talent out there and we must change to be relevant to their needs. We ignore them at our peril." &#42