National Farmers’ Union elects first female president in its 110-year history

NFU president Minette Batters

NFU president Minette Batters - Credit: Submitted

The National Farmers' Union (NFU) has elected the first female president in its 110-year history.

The NFU's newly-elected officeholder team. From left, vice president Stuart Roberts, president Minet

The NFU's newly-elected officeholder team. From left, vice president Stuart Roberts, president Minette Batters and deputy president Guy Smith. Picture by Simon Hadley. - Credit: Simon Hadley

Minette Batters, who runs a mixed farm in Wiltshire, became the industry's most senior national representative after taking over the role from retiring president Meurig Raymond, who stood down after four years.

She runs a diversified business that includes a horse livery, pedigree beef cattle, sheep, a wedding and corporate events venue and a catering venture.

She built the business from nothing to over 300 head of livestock after securing a long-term farm business tenancy in 1998.

After getting involved with the NFU in her home county as a way of driving change in the industry, she rose through the ranks and co-founded national campaigning initiatives like Ladies in Beef and the Great British Beef Week.

Ms Batters said: 'I am delighted to have been elected as president of the NFU and I am grateful to all the members who have given me the opportunity to lead our industry through Brexit and beyond.

'At the heart of the NFU is its members and I would like the organisation to aim even higher on their behalf. British farming is in the spotlight like never before and this is a great opportunity to reposition the sector in the eyes of the nation.

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'Together as a new officeholder team, we will hit the ground running and I look forward to sharing our new vision for farming at the earliest opportunity.'

Essex farmer Guy Smith was promoted to deputy president, and Stuart Roberts from Hertfordshire became vice president to complete the union's new officeholder team, elected by members following the AGM of the NFU Council in Birmingham.

Mr Smith said: 'It is a great privilege to serve the NFU as an officeholder and I am delighted to be given the opportunity to begin a new role as deputy president.

'To serve as the deputy to Minette is a great honour. Having worked with Minette for the past four years, I am looking forward to working with her and Stuart as a close team in what will be a pivotal two years for British agriculture.'

Mr Roberts said: 'I'm extremely proud to join the new officeholder team and I am grateful to members for giving me this opportunity. British agriculture is facing both exciting and challenging times, and I am looking forward to offering Minette and Guy my full support for the years ahead.'

During her election campaign, Ms Batters outlined her four priority areas for the farming industry:

• A dynamic and growing farmer and grower membership, allowing the union to 'support differing sectorial demands that help achieve successful, profitable businesses'.

• Supply chain, consumer, environmental, educational and skills campaigns to 'empower a new era of activist campaigners, and build new alliances that reposition where food and farming sits in the eyes of the nation'.

• UK 'fair trade': Strengthening farmers' routes to market, defining procurement rules and ensuring fair returns from transparent supply chains.

• Trade, labour, regulation and agricultural policy – and an urgent need for a British agriculture trade policy manifesto, as 'trade will shape our landscape for decades'.