New NFU regional director in East Anglia is ready for the challenge of “seismic change”
PUBLISHED: 11:31 06 September 2018 | UPDATED: 12:57 06 September 2018
The NFU in East Anglia has named its new regional director, who takes over at what he calls a time of “seismic change” in the industry.
Mike Mack, who comes from a Norfolk farming family and has worked with farm businesses across the east of England throughout his career, will take up the post on September 20.
His experience includes working on rural grant schemes for Defra, running rural training group Landskills East and helping farms with diversification and succession planning within the food and farming team at Savills.
He said: “I’m really looking forward to this challenge. This is a period of seismic change for the country, and the industry, that will impact pretty much on every single farm business out there.
“Members will have lots of concerns. How the NFU helps them and advises them is going to be really important.”
Mr Mack said the huge upheavals on the horizon for the industry would mean the NFU had a significant role to play.
“Farming is going through lots of changes and I aim to ensure that we are here to help NFU members across the east of England with these challenges and opportunities,” he said.
“The NFU has always been a big influencer on what happens politically in farming. It’s an organisation I’ve always had a working relationship with, and huge respect for, but I’ve never been directly involved with it as an NFU member.
“This means I have a lot to learn but I’ll also bring a fresh perspective, which will lead to some positive outcomes.”
Alongside Brexit issues, Mr Mack is keen to raise the issue of rural crime up the agenda, having dealt with very few cases of farm-related crime during his time as a sitting magistrate.
“We need to look at why these crimes are not coming before the courts and what can be done to improve the situation,” he said.
Mr Mack is married to Zoe and they have three children, Tommo, Ruben and Madeline.
NFU regional board chairman Will Dickinson said: “Mike Mack brings with him extensive knowledge and expertise about food and farming issues.
“His work advising farm businesses will be a great asset in his new role and I look forward to working with him.”
A life in agriculture
Mr Mack was learning to drive the family’s grey ‘Fergie’ tractor from the age of 14 and was determined to follow a career in agriculture.
He left school at 16 and studied at Easton College, including spending time working on farms in Zimbabwe, before working for Claxton Manor Farms in Norfolk. He then went to Reading University to study agricultural economics and joined Defra in Cambridge.
He worked on the Rural Enterprise Scheme and other schemes, eventually running a team of advisers in Norfolk.
After leaving Defra he moved to the Rural Enterprise Hub at Easton College, securing and delivering three Leader grant funding bids in partnership with Norfolk County Council. In addition, he set up the Landskills East training programme, which provided 28,000 days of training to farmers in the region.
Mr Mack also undertook a Nuffield Farming Scholarship on the topic of ‘the next generation of farmers’, before joining Smiths Gore as a farm and rural business consultant in 2012.
The company was acquired by Savills in 2015 and he has been based in Savills’ Norwich office since then, helping farm businesses across the country.