Meet the NFU Livestock Board

Sheep, cattle and chickens

The NFU Livestock Board meets regularly and supports members throughout the sector and sets the path for future sustainable growth. 

David Barton

NFU Livestock Board chair

David was born and raised on his family farm in the Cotswolds where he farms a beef suckler herd.

David is in Countryside Stewardship grassland options, such as GS4 herbal leys, which he uses to rear and finish predominately grass-fed beef.

Cereals grown on the farm are also used to feed his stock, allowing David to use the two businesses to support each other and provide sustainable produce. He also has a very small flock of pedigree poll Dorset sheep.

He has also previously stood as the NFU South West Livestock Board chair and has worked with AHDB as a strategic farm to improve profitability and efficiency.

Oli Lee

NFU Livestock Board vice chair and Midlands chair

Oli is a first generation beef and sheep farmer in Leicestershire. He and his wife are partners in her family’s business consisting of a flock of 550 Lleyn breeding ewes, 300 running ewe lambs, and a small Beef Shorthorn suckler herd.

The business has a growing local market for home-produced beef and lamb that is dry-aged and butchered on the farm. The business operates on a forage based grazing system and is part of the SFI Pilot scheme. Oli previously ran the neighbouring organic beef, sheep and arable estate and has worked at the Meat and Livestock Commission and as a farm business consultant.

He is aware that farming may change significantly over the next few years but is very optimistic that positive opportunities will arise for the sector.

Robert Lewis

NFU Livestock Board, NFU Cymru

This is Rob’s second term as NFU Cymru Livestock chair.

Robert farms three farms as one unit, where the land rises from 750 feet to more than 1650 feet on common grazing and overlooks the gateway to the Elan Valley.

The enterprise consists of 1000 head of sheep, including 450 traditional Welsh Mountain ewes; the business produces its own replacements, only buying in tups. The cattle enterprise consists of 60 Limousin and British Blue suckler cows which to go a Limousin bull. Calves are finished on farm.

Robert is a lamb buying agent for Pilgrim Foods. He has also judged livestock at many shows including the Royal Welsh Agricultural Winter Fair. He also recently purchased the Triangle Inn in Cwmdeuddwr.

The pub aims to showcase the beef and lamb from Rob’s farm, telling the powerful story of local provenance and a short supply chain. Last year, Rob was appointed as a Fellow for the Royal Agricultural Society.

Andrew Loftus

NFU Livestock Board North chair

Andrew manages more than 1000 acres of owned and rented land in North Yorkshire and Lancashire. Mostly grassland, he produces beef, lamb and various forms of ‘environmental additionality’.

Formerly Agriculture Manager for Morrisons PLC, Andrew sits on the National Livestock Board of the NFU, the Yorkshire Committee of the CLA and chairs the Beef & Lamb Net Zero Roadmap Group (supported by AHDB).

Hugh Broom

NFU Livestock Board East chair

Hugh Broom rears Angus X beef cattle in Surrey. The farm has recently entered SFI and hosts a battery storage enterprise.

He has worked off the farm as a journalist most recently presenting the Farmers Weekly Podcast up until December 2023.

Mark Weekes

NFU Livestock Board, South chair

Mark Weekes is a sheep farmer from Exeter. Farm safety is a large focus area for Mark; he has been pioneering the South's 2018 safety pledge campaign.

Clare Wise

NFU Livestock Board appointee, North

Clare is a mixed farmer from County Durham, farming sheep, cattle and arable. Following a career within the food chain, Clare returned home to run her fifth generation family farm.

Clare has a particular interest in animal health and welfare, using Agri tech and soil management to maximise livestock productivity. She is also an keen early adopter of new technologies on farm, always eager to give new opportunities a try.

Concerning all things net zero, Clare is determined to ensure farmers can maximise their productivity and financial rewards through this, especially in securing our unique place on supermarket shelves against imports.

She is very keen to preserve and value traditional stockmanship skills and ensure these work alongside new innovation and are valued.

Clare is also actively volunteering with the NFU Education Farmers for Schools programme and regularly visits schools to promote farming and food to the next generation of consumers.

Clare hopes to use her role on the Livestock Board to provide support to livestock farmers in the post subsidy world, ensuring they are rewarded and valued for their hard work and unique skill set, and that government policy supports farming to be a profitable and enjoyable career.

Gabby Emery

NFU Livestock Board appointee, South

Alongside her family, Gabby runs a commercial calf rearing farm in Somerset, finishing 4,500 calves every year. The farm is a bTB Approved Finishing Unit.

Gabby has an interest in dairy-beef supply chains, particularly in relation to sustainability.

Gabby was also was involved in the GB Calf Strategy since its inception, playing a key role in its publication.

Gabby has previously worked for the NFU in the bTB and Dairy teams, and is now currently working in artificial intelligence livestock technology.

Luke Smith

NFU Livestock Board appointee, East

Luke farms 700 sheep and 150 suckler beef cattle in an extensive grazing system in Surrey, with the farm’s business model being based on as few inputs as possible.

All stock from Luke’s farm goes to his own abattoir which processes for local pubs and restaurants in the south east.

Luke runs this abattoir on a tenanted site and caters for a wide range of businesses, especially those which are family run.

Esther Rudge

NFU Livestock Board appointee, Midlands

Esther is a fourth generation farmer, farming in partnership with her husband and son in Herefordshire.

She farms beef sucklers, sheep, arable and fruit and also has renewable energy, a firewood business and glamping on the farm. She has a strong interest in technology, having worked in IT as both a teacher and consultant.

Esther also has a strong interest in the environment, winning the Farmers Weekly Environmental Champion in 2020, winning the Wye Valley AONB farm of the year on 3 occasions, and is a previous winner of the Hereford Cattle Society national suckler herd of the year and Three Counties Mixed Farm of the Year.

Esther and her family won the 2020 Mixed Farmer of the Year at the Farmers Weekly Awards.

Dave Morgan

NFU Livestock Board co-optee

Dave runs the family farm in Herefordshire, an enterprise based around beef finishing as well as sheep, arable and AD enterprises. 

The AD plant utilises the waste from the cattle. 

The farm finishes 1000 cattle a year and around 1200 lambs over winter.

A practical farmer who is passionate about British meat, Dave chairs the Red Tractor beef and lamb board.

Dave Stanners

NFU Uplands North Group chair

Dave farms in partnership with his wife, Annabel on a tenanted upland farm of 247h.

The farm is situated in south west Northumberland, 20 miles North of Hexham. Dave and Annabel are first generation farmers.

The couple farm 700 breeding ewes with all lambs sold store or for breeding and 70 pedigree Luing cows, steers sold at 12 months in the store and surplus heifers sold for breeding.

Around one third of the farm is in an upland offer, mid tier countryside stewardship with the remainder entered into the SFI pilot scheme, from 1 January 2022.

Mat Cole

NFU Uplands South Group chair

Mat Cole is from the South West and runs a traditional hill farm of around 2000 acres in partnership with his brother. It is a mix of owned and tenanted land on which they run their 2000 traditional hill ewes with lambs that are sold for breeding or fat. 

They also have 250 suckler cows all with followers which are retained on farm for finishing or sold as breeding stock, as well as a small herd of Dartmoor ponies.

Mat actively grazes over 5 commons with hefted stock and therefore has considerable experience of agreements on commons as well as on the home farm.

He is also a director of Dartmoor Farmers a marketing group that sells premium beef and lamb into select Morrisons stores as well as retailers and wholesales. 

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