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Looking back on a year (in Wordles)

By Emma Brown
Director Public Affairs, CropLife Europe

This time last year I began a new stage in my career. I left my role as Head of the Brussels office for a strategic campaigns agency and joined CropLife Europe (CLE).

I last worked in a trade association more than 10 years ago, when I worked at Toy Industries of Europe and I loved it. That was my first foray into the world of chemicals.

And a decade later, as I moved back into trade association life – albeit not in toys or games this time – I dusted off my knowledge about chemicals and jumped headfirst into this exciting new challenge.  Whilst I was becoming more acquainted with the hidden treasures of the agri-food system, everyone else in the world seemed to be focused on one game (albeit not the ones I was previously familiar with) but an online game where you guess a five-letter word in six tries – ‘Wordle’.

As I write this, it seems more than just 12 months ago (for both me joining CLE but also that Wordle was part of people’s morning routines). But I’m viewing this positively. I feel very much at home at CLE – and in honour of that, here are three Wordles that encapsulate the past year. I offer them even though I only actually tested the Taylor Swift version of the game (which I would argue is much, much harder but not quite appropriate for this piece)!


It’s always been my style to roll up my sleeves and just get stuck in. For me, the best way to learn is very much to do.  And that has been exactly my experience of joining the agri-food sector.

Learning and growth are continuous processes – and that is also true of European policy-making. The past 12 months have seen many significant developments in legislation affecting the agri-food sector, in particular around the Sustainable Use of Pesticides regulation (SUR). The supposedly ancient Chinese curse ‘May you live in interesting times’ is one that has certainly popped into mind a few times over the past few months.

Many people still have the perception that CropLife Europe only represents the pesticide industry, so they are often surprised to learn that we are actually about so much more. Today, CropLife Europe has four key pillars in our mandate, all of which are equally important to us and embrace innovation. They are pesticides, precision and digital farming, plant biotechnology, and biopesticides. As a result, our legislative priorities have expanded in line with this far broader scope of activity.


With one of the busier EU legislative agendas of any sector, it has been essential to have long-term plans to follow. It is too easy just to get stuck in the nitty-gritty details of today’s issues, whatever that may be, day after day. But you also need to be able to keep one eye on a further horizon, knowing why that distant destination is important for the industry you represent – as well as for the planet and all those who live on it.

As a political and legislative enthusiast, the next 12 months promise yet more excitement, with a number of national as well as European elections coming up (and we all know how much I love a changeover year, or you do if I’ve bored you senseless regaling you with stories of such). With so many legislative issues currently under discussion, it is even more important to have a plan for every potential outcome.


For me, one of the best parts of the past 12 months has been the people I have met. They have been amazing. Everyone I have encountered has so much expertise at their fingertips – and this is coupled with genuine desire to collaborate and cooperate between the members and the team at CropLife Europe. It has been a joy to be a part of this group effort.

I have also really enjoyed meeting our partners – both the traditional agricultural stakeholders, as well as the new, non-traditional ones, such as cutting-edge digital companies, infrastructure providers and many more. Together we are leaving no stone unturned in our mission to transform into a sustainable European agriculture system fit for a healthy and safe future.

And finally, a special word for my (now not so new) CropLife Europe colleagues, who welcomed me so warmly a year ago and have become as much friends as co-workers. There really is a strong team spirit, with everyone supporting each other (even down to receiving many dog-sitting offers). Team building (and maintenance) is also something that must be a continuous process – and here at CLE it definitely is.  

Onwards to the next 12 months.

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