Some people are born to be leaders, most just learn on the way. The latter seems to be how it works in farming. Our leaders are bred. Groomed though various roles to be the right mix of farmer and business we need to represent us. I’ve had the pleasure in meeting some of the spokespeople of farming in the UK and very few strike me as born leaders. The born leaders are the one’s that inspire you being around them.
For instance, Minette is a brilliant public speaker, great on the TV and the perfect face of farming. Which is exactly what she needs to be as the public head of the NFU. Never has farming needed a presentable and eloquent public face as much. Minette deals with news presenters’ questions and vegan activists with exactly the articulacy we need. I doubt she inspires many farmers, but that’s not her job in my opinion. A job which I hope she keeps for a while longer and I’m sure she will just get better and better at. But she doesn’t lead the NFU. She represents it.
Who are our leaders then?
Jim Mosely CEO of Red Tractor, Nichols Saphir is Chairman of AHDB, Professor Caccamo is CEO of NIAB. It’s not them and we shouldn’t be looking to them. They organise and control, not lead. It’s certainly not the politicians or wannabe politicians. All of them are paid to do a job and after enough years of that, they seem to care more about the next role than the cause. The merry go-round of civil servants in our industry is blatantly wrong. Although it’s nice to see so much new blood coming in at AHDB from outside farming. Our leaders are the ones that make their voices heard and give their opinion.
Those that are both doing and talking, where farming is still more of their role (neatly ruled myself out there). There are so many examples, the farmer focus writers in this magazine, YouTubers, farmers doing their own farm tours, the speakers at Groundswell, the NFU county chairs. You have met so many of them and they have inspired you. They don’t claim to lead our industry, they just do. You have listened to them and acted on what they say. You have absorbed and learnt from them. That’s what leaders do.
Farming has plenty of leaders, they just aren’t who you think of when you say “leader” out loud.