Meet your new Vice President, Rachel Hallos

27 March 2024

Rachel Hallos in a cow shed

NFU Content Editor Beth Wright meets NFU Vice President Rachel Hallos to talk all things food and farming, and her journey from member to officeholder.

Sitting at her kitchen table on a rainy day in the South Pennines, three weeks after being elected as NFU Vice President, upland farmer Rachel Hallos says the reality of being an officeholder doubles down on everything she’d expected.

“This organisation and the people that work in it, the cogs that turn behind the NFU, are quite extraordinary. If I could harness a tenth of what I have felt these past few weeks and take that out to membership, it would be so powerful and that’s exactly what I’m going to try and do with the regional board chairs.”

Having served as a regional board chair herself (North East), and completed two terms as West Riding county chair, Rachel says while she wasn’t naïve about becoming an officeholder, she’s found the reach that accompanies the position is “quite extraordinary”.

A big believer in going after what you want, Rachel has certainly hit the ground running since the election, hosting press on farm, visiting NFU offices in both Stoneleigh and Westminster, and meeting peers in the House of Lords to discuss various challenges facing members.

Two of those challenges she foresees as being top of her mind in the years ahead, are water and infrastructure. The latter particularly so ahead of a General Election that she suspects will see prospective governments looking for land – a move which, potentially, could impact NFU members.

“They need land, it’s as simple as that, whether that’s going under or over or across it and that’s where our members come into play, and we’ve got to be ready for it,” she says.

It’s just the four of us here, so we’re a true family farm. From the word go we have talked about everything with the children around this table.”

NFU Vice President Rachel Hallos

Water is also high on her agenda.

“We have a serious problem with water. There’s either too much, too little, or it’s in the wrong place and not the right quality. We have a massive piece of work to do there and that’s from everybody – us, the Environment Agency, drainage boards, and farmers doing their bit as well.”

Path to officeholder

A farmer’s daughter, Rachel didn’t plan to follow in her father’s footsteps, working initially at Bradford & Pennine Insurance and later for a greeting cards company, with roles spanning admin, IT, and project and retail management.

She credits those years with giving her a different perspective and learning the importance of organisation and processes; skills that came in handy when she returned to farming and moved with her husband-to-be, Stephen, to his family farm, which the couple took over in 2000.

Since then, Rachel and Stephen have evolved from a milk producer/retailer unit to focus on their Salers herd, hill sheep and environmental outcomes. Together with their two children, they also operate a holiday let and contracting business across the 2,000-acre Yorkshire Water tenanted farm near Ripponden.


“It’s just the four of us here, so we’re a true family farm. From the word go we have talked about everything with the children around this table. We’ve always been open and honest with them so they’ve always understood why we can do this but can’t do that and now they’re taking ownership of their own roles on the farm.”

It’s her family Rachel credits with supporting her bid to run as Vice President.

“I didn’t take the decision to stand as an officeholder of the NFU lightly. I had a lot of questions to ask of myself, never mind my family, who would have to pick up the pieces in my absence, should I be successful.”

Now in post, Rachel believes she has been elected to “be a person that members can believe in”.

“I spoke to a lot of people leading up to the election and I didn’t ask them anything apart from, ‘is there anything you want to ask me?’. And I think that’s all that people want; they want to be heard.

“I’m not an expert in a good many things but I’ll be honest, listen and learn and ask the questions for you.”

Falling back in love with food

There is so much that can be delivered by this industry, but it won’t be by what we’ve done in the past, we need to stop hanging on to that because nothing stays the same.”

NFU Vice President Rachel Hallos

As for Rachel’s farming passions, in addition to her Saler cows, which she shows competitively, it’s food that has the new Vice President’s heart.

“We’ve fallen out of love with it,” she says. “It’s become just a fuel, and we don’t appreciate the value of good, home-grown food. Whether it’s sitting around a table like we are or a having takeaway pizza with friends, food brings people together and gets them talking.

“We need to get people falling back in love with food and to understand what good food can do for you because it can make you feel so much better.

“There is so much that can be delivered by this industry, but it won’t be by what we’ve done in the past, we need to stop hanging on to that because nothing stays the same. We haven’t stayed the same, none of the farms around here have, or if they have then they’ve gone out business.

“My main passion is food; we have got to fall back in love with it as a nation because it can deliver so much more.”

A people person

So, with a two-year term ahead, where does Rachel hope to be in 2026?

“I hope to have delivered for members,” she says simply. “I hope those members that voted me in say, ‘yeah we made a good choice there’.”

A self-proclaimed ‘people person’, Rachel is looking forward rolling up her sleeves and getting stuck in on behalf of members.

“I genuinely believe in and love people,” she says, gesturing to a full kitchen of NFU staff. “If you just talk to people normally and be straight with them, you’re halfway there.”
As for the NFU, it’s business as usual.

“I want us to be seen as the go-to place for farmers wanting to know how to get to the other side of whatever it is they facing, and that, literally, is whatever they face. We will go with them.”

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