NFU elects first female president

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Media captionMinette Batters: UK must not ‘open flood gates’ to cheap food

The National Farmers Union has elected its first female president in the organisation’s 110-year history.

Minette Batters, a beef farmer from Wiltshire, takes over from Meurig Raymond, who held the post for four years.

She had just one opponent, Essex farmer Guy Smith, who will become her deputy.

Ms Batters fought her campaign on championing the industry to those outside of the farming community and gaining certainty around Brexit.

The NFU, which represents more than 50,000 farmers and growers in England and Wales, announced the result at its annual meeting in Birmingham.

Farming heritage

Ms Batters was brought up on a farm, but did not stand to inherit the tenancy for the land from her father.

However, in 1998 she managed to convince the landlords that, in exchange for renovating two derelict cottages in the farmyard, she could take on the farm buildings and 300 acres.

She told the Love British Food campaign that from starting with just 20 Simmental cross suckler cows, the business has grown to a herd of over 300 pedigree Hereford cattle, a small flock of pedigree sheep, fields and a converted Tythe barn wedding venue.

She also runs a catering business specialising in home grown produce, and employs two full-time and up to 20 part-time staff

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Minette Batters says she never planned to be NFU president

Union career

Ms Batters first got involved with the NFU locally, believing it was a way of “driving change”.

However, she said it was a gradual process to reach the position she has achieved, rather than an ambition.

She told the campaign: “I have to say I never planned to have a career in agricultural politics.

“It’s down to the encouragement and persuasion of other farmers that I am where I am today.”

After becoming a grassroots member, she rose through the ranks to NFU county chairman, serving as Wiltshire’s council delegate and also as regional board chairman for the South West.

She has also been a member of NFU Governance Board and the agricultural representative on the SW Environment Agency Flood and Coastal Committee.

Ms Batters has co-founded campaigns such as Ladies in Beef and the Great British Beef Week, and supported others, like Love British Food.

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