The concept of a National Horticultural Forum has been dealt a severe blow by farming leaders. The NFU issued a statement that it could "not justify the idea of putting members' money into another forum that would be likely to duplicate the work of others within the industry".
The NFU is part of a steering group examining the possibility of creating a National Horticultural Forum, suggested in last year's DEFRA horticultural R&D review.
In a letter to other members of the steering group, the NFU said it was not convinced by the arguments for the forum and of the value of investing in a part-time executive to run it.
Michael Paske, NFU vice president, said: "We believe far more could be achieved and in a far more cost-effective way through greater co-operation among the many industry groups that already serve the needs of our sector."
The union's horticulture chairman Michael Holmes said devoting more money to a new forum would be premature while the outcomes of various initiatives, consultations and reviews involving horticultural bodies were ongoing.
Horticulture Research International chief executive Professor Michael Wilson, a steering group member, said he was keeping an open mind as the concept could raise the profile of the industry and its need for R&D.

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