The first summit of its kind to help UK horticulture and potato growers improve their negotiation power and professionalism will take place next month, the NFU has announced today. The event will include a two hour negotiation workshop on skills and techniques for dealing with contract negotiations. A range of speakers will also share experiences from the sugar, dairy, horticulture and potatoes sectors, demonstrate the value of utilising market data and highlight the support available from the NFU. The Grower Representative Summit will focus on the processing sector, where a high proportion of crops are supplied on contracts. NFU horticulture and potatoes adviser Lee Abbey said: "The NFU’s Catalyst for Change report flagged up the need to better support growers who have a responsibility to negotiate contracts, or act on behalf of a producer group." "Growers told us that they can sometimes feel dictated to by buyers on pricing decisions, often receive contracts very late in the season and would like more guidance on developing clear and transparent pricing formulas." NFU horticulture and potatoes board chairman Sarah Dawson said that a challenging season had brought many issues to light. "Growers have been caught out by contracts that require them to fulfil volumes despite massively reduced yields and by pricing formulas that don’t respond to sharp increases in production costs,” added Mrs Dawson. "Now is the perfect time to re-evaluate how growers deal with their customers and take a closer look at the contracts we sign, and the way they are negotiated." "Growers' customers are slowly starting to realise that they need to share the risks and the rewards of our unpredictable seasons. The summit will offer our members a valuable insight into effective negotiations and managing relationships with their processors so that we can work more effectively together and build a stronger and more sustainable supply chain."