Meet the NFU Dairy Board

27 July 2023

Dairy cows in a field

The NFU Dairy Board meets regularly and supports members throughout the dairy sector and sets the industry's path for future sustainable growth. 

Michael Oakes

NFU Dairy Board chair

A tenant farmer on the southern outskirts of Birmingham, Michael milks a closed herd of 180 pedigree Holsteins.

Milk is sold to Arla, with surplus heifers sold at calving.

Michael has held various roles within the NFU, as Worcestershire county chair, West Midlands regional board chair and council delegate. Michael has been on the NFU Dairy Board for nearly 14 years; two as vice chair and almost 8 as chair. He was re-elected to serve his fourth term as chair in March 2022. 

Michael believes strongly in farmer collaboration, as well as improving the mechanics of the supply chain and is keen to improve relationships between farmers, processors and end users, whilst continuing to build consumer support for the industry.

Paul Tompkins

NFU Dairy Board vice chair

Paul and his wife, Rachael, farm a herd of 400 pedigree Holsteins, supplying Paynes Dairies in the Vale of York.

Not from a farming background, Paul worked in the financial sector before meeting his wife and joining the family dairy business.

Paul joined the national Dairy Board in 2017 as an appointee before being elected as the North East representative. He has served nearly four years as Vice chair in total.

Paul is enthusiastic about educating people of all ages about dairy farming and is keen to continue developing relationships with milk processors and other farmer representatives to ensure a joined-up industry approach to future farm policy.

Paul believes a fair and transparent supply chain is critical if dairy farmers are to meet the demands of a quickly changing society. He also works hard to ensure the dairy sector is represented throughout the supply chain and at government level so dairy farmers can make the most of future opportunities and have a bright and prosperous future.

Jonathan Wilkinson

NFU Cymru Milk Board chair

Jonathan is a member of the NFU Dairy Board as chair of the NFU Cymru Milk Board.

Graham Young

NFU Dairy Board member, North West

Graham farms alongside his wife Janet running a herd of 180 Holsteins and supplying Arla.

The cows are milked using robotic milkers installed back in 2010.

Alongside his work with the NFU, Graham is also an Arla area chair and a Tesco representative. Key areas of interest include the promotion of school milk, improving animal health and creating better farmer/processors relationships.

Graham is passionate about educating consumers about food production and the benefits of including dairy in a healthy diet.

Michael Oulton

NFU Dairy Board member, East Midlands

In partnership with his wife Jo, Michael farms 450 acres of land in Derbyshire.

The farm runs a herd of 340 Holsteins and Holstein-Swedish Red crosses. The high yielders are kept inside all year round and milked three times a day whilst low yielders go out to graze in the summer. Replacement heifers are reared on farm.

Michael supplies Muller on a liquid contract. Areas of interest include animal health, particularly tackling the bTB situation, and improving the environmental performance of the dairy sector through improving water and soil quality.

John Torrance

NFU Dairy Board member, East Anglia

John is a third generation farmer and a tenant on the Crown Estate near Romford – only 15 miles from central London.

John milks 520 Holstein cows three times a day and operates an indoor system to ensure a level milk supply all year round – having found the dry weather conditions and poor quality of grass in that area are not compatible with a grazing system. John employs a number of full time staff to help run the farm and ensure his cows are professionally looked after.

John is passionate about cow welfare and maintaining high health and safety standards for his workers, and wants to ensure future generations of dairy farmers have a viable future.

Robert Davies

NFU Dairy Board member, West Midlands

Robert is a member of the NFU Dairy Board, representing the West Midlands.

Matt Ford

NFU Dairy Board member, South East

Matt is a member of the NFU Dairy Board, representing the South East.

Stephen Dark

NFU Dairy Board member, South West

Stephen is a member of the NFU Dairy Board, representing the South West.

Jessica Langton

Dairy Board Appointee, East Midlands & NFU Next Generation Forum appointee

Jess is a dairy farmer in Derbyshire milking the pedigree herd of Locklan Holsteins.

She is a recent BSc Animal Science graduate from the University of Nottingham and began the Genus Graduates Scheme in September 2022.

Jess is keen to promote the agricultural industry to people from a non-farming background and help create routes for new entrants to the industry. She also helps to strengthen the connection between consumers and the countryside.

Jess is also a former participant of the NFU Student & Young Farmer Ambassador programme.

Gemma Smale-Rowland

NFU Dairy Board appointee, South West

Gemma is a third generation farmer from Cornwall whose family run a pedigree Glebewin herd of high genetics Holsteins.

Gemma has been actively involved in the family farm, from rearing to nutrition and showing, as well as helping to manage the day-to-day health of the herd and developing long-term plans for the future of the business.

She previously worked for Mole Valley Farmers as a dairy inputs specialist and logistics manager, and is a club leader and trustee at Launceston YFC.

Gemma was on the Dairy Crest Direct Forum Board, representing around 100 local dairy farmers.

She is keen to work with the board to ensure the views of dairy farmers are represented over the next few years as decisions are made on where public money should be spent and the future of environmental policy. She is also passionate about working to improve fairness in the supply chain and ensuring the security of British dairying for future generations.

Ian Harvey

NFU Dairy Board appointee, South West

Ian helps run a family farm partnership milking 180 cows with 180 followers on approximately 400 acres in Cornwall.

The cows are a mixture of Holstein-Friesians and pedigree Ayrshires.

Ian is interested in improving the environment impact of the industry and has recently embarked on a river fencing scheme to reduce potential erosion and water contamination. The farm has since decided to diversify their water source by investing in a pump to drive water from a nearby watercourse for use on farm in an environmentally friendly and cost effective effort to reduce water costs.

Ian currently sits on the NFU’s Dairy Environmental Issues Group and is also the finance director for Dairy Crest Direct (DCD).

A strong advocate of dairy producer organisations, Ian believes in the importance of farmer cooperation to improve the dairy supply chain and is keen to work with the NFU Dairy Board to promote good farmer-processor relations.

Gary Yeomans

NFU Dairy Board appointee, Wales

Gary and his wife Jess farm 500 acres near Abergavenny in Monmouthshire, with 900 goats supplying Abergavenny Fine Foods, pedigree Welsh Black cattle, arable, a holiday let and store lambs.

They provide work experience for student vets and have given many young farmers their first job in farming.

He has a BSc (Hons) degree in agriculture from Harper Adams, a Nuffield Scholarship and a Fellowship of the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society. Gary and Jess were finalists in The Farmers Weekly dairy farmer of the year in 2019 and winners of the Welsh Big Bale Silage competition in 2021.

Gary has been on NFU Cymru Welsh Council for eight years and represented Monmouthshire at National Council for four years. He also sits on NFU Cymru’s TB forum.

Amy Eggleston

NFU Dairy Board appointee, East Midlands

Amy is a fifth generation dairy farmer from Leicestershire.

Alongside her family, Amy manages the 600-cow dairy herd on a New Zealand-style grazing and spring calving system. 

As well as her farm role, Amy is also the founder of Pastures Green Communications Ltd, helping rural and agricultural businesses promote themselves and tell their story online. She helps businesses with all areas of their marketing strategy and specialises in social media and influencer marketing within the industry. 

Amy is passionate about communicating a positive message for the dairy industry online and spends much of her time sharing her farming story on social media. She has over 18,000 followers and enjoys communicating the farming story to consumers, next generation farmers and school children.

Adam Westaway

NFU Organics Forum member and NFU Dairy Board co-optee, South West

Adam is a third generation farmer dairy farmer from Devon who has been farming organically for over 20 years. The business farms 370 acres of heavy clay with 170 Friesian cows on a grazing based system milking with robots. 

The milk is produced using no antibiotics for OMSCo’s US premium pool for export as milk fat, powder or cheeses.

Adam has recently been co-opted onto the National dairy board, has been the local NFU group chair as well as having been on the South West dairy board.

Adam has (recently) been a board member of OMSCO as well as a chairman of the membership committee and the Devon membership rep.

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