Arable farmer Nigel Barnes is the new chairman of Bedfordshire & Huntingdonshire NFU.
Nigel, of Westoning, takes over from Gary Speirs at a crucial time for the industry, with huge uncertainties around Brexit and the future of agricultural policy in the UK.
“I’m pleased and proud to be taking over as county chairman and I’m looking forward to it,” he said.
“There’s a lot of uncertainty around and I will be encouraging farmers to talk to local MPs about the importance of food and farming.
“Many of the big decisions are out of our hands, but if we can lobby the legislators on crucial issues such as farm support payments and the potential loss of crop protection products then it can only help.”
Nigel farms about 700 acres, growing combinable crops on a farm that also includes a 14 acre Site of Special Scientific Interest, industrial lets and a solar farm.
Additional renewable energy is generated by solar panels on the grain store roof and a biomass boiler. He also contract farms another 650 acres.
His wife Diane works part-time within the business and in November 2018, their daughter Lucy came back to the farm to run a new venture, contract rearing 2000 pigs for BQP.
“We are halfway through rearing our first batch of pigs and it’s going well so far. The initial driver was to improve the soil because we’ve been farming without putting any organic matter back for a number of years and I thought that was unsustainable,” said Nigel.
Issues he is keen to tackle during his time as chairman include rural crime, particularly the impact that fly tipping and hare coursing is having within Bedfordshire and Huntingdonshire.
Nigel is also a strong supporter of farm safety campaigns and he hopes to run a similar event to the pre-harvest health and safety held in Bedfordshire last year.