National horticulture industry launches search for new leader

By National Farmers Federation on
24 January 2023

Leadership change for NFF horticulture council

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) Horticulture Council has launched the search for its next chairperson, with inaugural chair Fiona Simson due to step down mid-year as her term as NFF President comes to a close.

Ms Simson said now was the perfect time for a change in chair, with a mounting commitment from the NFF and member bodies to the Council, and a clear need to work more collaboratively and speak with one voice nationally on key issues impacting the industry.

“The Council is really starting to hit its straps. Established less than five years ago, it has been building momentum and gaining recognition as a valuable, representative, and trustworthy source of advice to government on what is a complex and multifaceted industry.

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“For the next chair, as the Council evolves, becoming more mature and independent, and as the horticulture industry continues its own path of growth and transformation, there will be great opportunities and also challenges.

“The Council and national horticulture industry needs, and deserves, an excellent and accomplished chair and leader, so it’s really exciting to start the search today,” Ms Simson said.

In selecting the successful candidate, the Council will be putting emphasis on experience chairing governing or policy-setting bodies and facilitating productive and inclusive debate.

Michael Coote, CEO of vegetable peak industry body AUSVEG, said the next chair would also need to take a lead on behalf of the Council in engaging with public debate on issues that cut across the whole sector, including labour availability, biosecurity, sustainability, domestic competition, and export market access.

“We are looking for an individual with a track record as an effective chair and a strong industry advocate, but also someone able to influence in Canberra, with an existing network among our key stakeholders, or an ability to build those connections quickly,” Mr Coote said.

Leanne Erakovic, CEO of the Australian Banana Growers Council, said an affinity with the Australian horticulture industry was essential in the role.

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“The chair of the Council doesn’t necessarily need to be a past or present fruit, vegetable or nut grower so long as they meet our other criteria, but in representing the industry they’ll need to be comfortable getting their boots dirty. Being authentic is persuasive,” said Ms Erakovic.

Applications for the position of chair of the NFF Horticulture Council are now open and will close 5pm Wednesday 1 March.


About the NFF Horticulture Council

The Council is the preeminent forum for deliberating and forming policy concerning our national horticulture industry. It was established in 2019 and is now comprised of 21 national community and state peak horticulture bodies, who together represent the full breadth of an incredibly diverse industry.

The Council develops policy positions on common issues of national importance to the horticulture sector such as trade, workforce, biosecurity, farm business, climate change and sustainability, markets and competition, R&D, telecommunications and infrastructure.

About the role and application process

More information on the Council, including its members, and the position of chair and application process can be found here.

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