NFU24: Meet the NFU conference speakers

20 February 2024

NFU Conference 2024 artwork with the words

Meet the industry leaders, experts and political heavyweights that will be discussing the future of agriculture and horticulture at #NFU24 at the ICC, Birmingham, 20–21 February 2024.

Get to know the many conference chairs, speakers, coordinators and mentors from across the industry who are taking part in NFU Conference 2024.

Click on their profile to read their full biography. 

A | B | C | E | F | H | J | K | L | M | N | O | R | S | T | W | Z

See our Conference programme


Lee Abbey

Chief adviser (Crop and plant production)

Lee has been a policy adviser at the NFU for more than 18 years and leads the Horticulture and Potatoes, Combinable Crops, and Plant Health teams.

He works closely with the national boards for Horticulture & Potatoes and Combinable Crops to develop and deliver their key strategic aims.


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.

Minette Batters

Former NFU President

Minette runs a tenanted family farm in Wiltshire.  The mixed farming business includes a 100-cow continental cross suckler herd, as well as sheep and arable.

Diversification includes the conversion of a 17th century tithe barn into a wedding and corporate events venue, and horse liveries. Minette co-founded the campaigning initiatives 'Ladies in Beef' and the 'Great British Beef Week'.

Campaigning on behalf of NFU members about the importance of British food and farming has been a key driver for Minette throughout her time at the NFU. In 2020 she led one of the most successful petitions ever, bringing together a coalition of chefs, including Jamie Oliver, farmers, environmentalists, consumer groups and animal welfare experts – resulting in over one million people signing the NFU food standards petition. She has also regularly engaged with different media genres including appearances on Desert Island Discs, Question Time, and Any Questions.

She has been an NFU member from grassroots through to County Chair; she served as Wiltshire’s Council delegate and also as Regional Board Chair for the South West. Minette has also been a member of NFU Governance Board and served as NFU Deputy President for four years from 2014 to 2018, before being elected as president in February 2018. Minette is also an ambassador of Farm Africa and was made a Deputy Lieutenant to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth in 2021.

Officeholder responsibilities 

  • Trade and standards
  • EU and international relations
  • Taxation and fiscal policy
  • Science and research and development
  • Food supply chain (fair dealing, Markets and Authorities, competition, regulation)
  • Food service
  • AHDB
  • Levelling up
  • Education

Steve Belcher

Principle Technical Officer, PGRO (Processors & Growers Research Organisation)

Steve has worked within the PGRO for almost 38 years, and currently holds the position of Principle Technical Officer.

Part of Steve’s role is to oversee the curation of the Descriptive List for pea and bean varieties, which this year expanded to include 12 new varieties.

Jack Bobo

Director, Food Systems Institute at the University of Nottingham

Jack Bobo is the Director of the University of Nottingham’s Food Systems Institute.

Prior to joining the Institute, Jack served as the Director of Global Food and Water Policy at The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and as the CEO of Futurity, a food foresight company.

He is the author of the 2021 book ‘Why smart people make bad food choices.’ Recognised by Scientific American as one of the 100 most influential people in biotechnology, he also served as the Chief Communications Officer and SVP for Global Policy at Intrexon Corporation and as a senior advisor for food policy at the U.S. Department of State.

A global thought leader, Jack has delivered more than 500 keynote speeches in 50 countries on the future of food. Degrees include J.D. in Law, M.S. in Environmental Science, B.S. in Biology and B.A. in Psychology and Chemistry.

Sarah Bradbury

CEO, Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD)

Sarah Bradbury is CEO of IGD, the organisation that aims to be the essential partner to a thriving food and consumer goods industry.

Sarah is a highly experienced director with more than 25 years’ experience in retail, leading commercial category teams. Most recently, she was Group Quality Director at Tesco.

Tom Bradshaw

NFU President

Tom farms in partnership with his wife, Emily, and his parents in North Essex. Alongside a small owned farm they run a larger contract farming business growing a range of combinable crops across 950 hectares in North East Essex.

The home farm is based around arable production but has also diversified into equestrian and renewables.

Tom has represented the NFU from Local Branch Chairman through to Chair of the National Combinable Crops Board.

Tom was elected to the position of NFU President in February 2024.


  • Animal health and welfare incl. bTB
  • Trade and standards
  • Climate, energy and net zero
  • Food supply chain (fair dealing, mergers and acquisitions, competition, regulation)
  • Animal ID and movements
  • Assurance review
  • Taxation and fiscal policy
  • Immigration

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.

Andy Bury

Pulse Manager, Frontier Agriculture

Andy Bury is the Pulse Manager at Frontier Agriculture, making up a key part of the supply chain for an increasingly popular crop.

Part of Andy’s role is to help ensure UK beans remain the cornerstone of the quality bean market in Egypt, as well as identifying suitable homes for the domestic feed market.


Bridget Christensen

Poultry, dairy and arable farmer

Bridget is employed by Steanbow Farms in Somerset, where she looks after health and safety, compliance across all the enterprise (9 million litres of milk, 3.5 million broiler chickens and 1500 acres arable) commercial and domestic tenancies, human resource.

She is also currently NFU Branch chair for Mid-Somerset and Deputy Chair for the Somerset branch.

Simon Conway

Chief Executive, Horticulture Crop Protection Ltd

Simon comes from a family farming background and has worked within the Fresh Produce and Horticulture sector for 35 years.

He had a long career with Vitacress Ltd. where he was Commercial Director and then Managing Director at Vitacress Herbs Ltd and more recently Vitacress Salads Ltd.

He was Vice Chairman of West Sussex Growers association for 4 years and is current Chair of British Tomato Growers Association.

Luke Cox

NFU Combinable Crops Policy Adviser

Luke Cox is the Combinable Crops Policy Adviser at the NFU, working for farmers and growers in the combinable crops sector to represent them on all relevant issues.

Emma Crosby

External Affairs Manager, National Farmers Union

As External Affairs Manager in the NFU's London team, Emma is responsible for delivering the external affairs strategy, building collaborative relationships with key external politicians, civil servants and stakeholders, and raising the NFU’s campaigning and lobbying profile in Westminster.

Matt Culley

NFU Combinable Crops Board member, regional chair (South)

Matt farms in partnership with his brother in Hampshire, currently managing 650 hectares of owned and contract farmed chalk loam, clay cap and gravel soils, supporting wheat, barley and oilseed rape over the four coarse rotation.

Wheat is grown for the feed market, with a small area grown for seed. Winter barley is feed and spring barley is for malting. The farming partnership also runs a grain storage business with drying facilities and a soft fruit enterprise.

Matt served as NFU Combinable Crops Board chair from 2020-2024.


Martin Emmett

NFU Horticulture and Potatoes Board chair

Martin was elected chair of the NFU Horticulture and Potatoes Board in 2022. 

He is a director of Tristram Plants, part of the Farplants co-operative which grows and markets over 2000 plant varieties and generates more than £50 million annual sales through retail.

David Exwood

NFU Deputy President

David believes that the future of farming isn't about managed decline and dependence on environmental payments, it's about creating new opportunities for profitable food production alongside net zero and biodiversity.

David farms south of Horsham in West Sussex with his wife and two sons over 1200 tenanted hectares in the heart of the Sussex Weald.

Starting in 1989 with 70ha the business now has arable, dairy beef, Sussex suckler herd and sheep enterprises. In 2003 the Farm Shop opened and sells a wide range of food from the Victorian stable yard at Westons.

He has served previously within the NFU as Branch Chair, West Sussex Council Delegate, South East Regional Chair as well as four years on Governance Board.

David was elected to the position of NFU Deputy President in February 2024.


  • EU and international relations
  • Banking
  • Biodiversity
  • Food labelling
  • Food safety
  • Food service and hospitality
  • Agricultural transition (productivity, ELMs, stability)
  • Plant health
  • Assurance schemes
  • British Agriculture Bureau
  • Health, safety and wellbeing
  • Agricultural transport
  • Uplands
  • Tenants


Tim Farron MP

MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale

Tim has been the MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale since 2005.

In July 2015 Tim was elected leader of the Lib Dems. He stood down in June 2017 following the General Election and now is the party's spokesperson for the Environment.

Tim lives in Milnthorpe, south Cumbria with his wife Rosie, and their four children.

Richard Findlay

NFU Livestock Board chair (2018-2024)

Richard farms a mixed beef and sheep holding in Westerdale in the North York Moors National Park.

He has 2000 acres of moorland in a HLS agreement and the farm is stocked with mainly Easycare ewes as well as pedigree flocks of Beltex and Suffolks.

He is director of the “7 Hill Farmers Ltd” producer group and has been NFU Livestock Board chair since March 2018.


Lisa Howkins

Sales and Marketing Director, NFU Energy

Lisa is the Sales and Marketing Director at NFU Energy. She is NFU Energy’s strategic lead on the collaboration with NFU Sugar and Nestle.


Professor Susan Jebb OBE

Chair, Food Standards Agency

Professor Susan Jebb has been Chair of the Food Standards Agency since 2021. She is one of the UK’s leading scientists, a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians.

Her recent research has focused on the treatment of obesity and interventions to encourage healthy and sustainable diets.

Susan has a long-standing interest in the translation of scientific evidence into policy. She was the Science Advisor to the Government Office for Science Foresight report on obesity in 2007 and an advisor to Henry Dimbleby’s National Food Strategy (2020-2021).

She has previously chaired the cross-government expert advisory group on obesity (2007–2011), the Department of Health responsibility deal food network (2011–2015) and public health advisory committees for the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (2013-2018). She was awarded an OBE in 2008 for services to public health.

Susan continues to hold a part-time appointment at the University of Oxford as Professor of Diet and Population Health alongside her role as FSA Chair.

Aled Jones

NFU Cymru President

Aled is an eighth-generation farmer who runs a pedigree herd of Holsteins with his with his son, Osian, in Caernarfon. Aled is married to Eilir and together they have four children, Osian, Prysor, Erwaun and Gruffudd and 7 grandchildren. 

Aled has previously held a variety of positions across the industry, including holding the post of Chairman of milk recording company Cattle Information Services (CIS) for seven years and being a trustee of Holstein UK for eight years.

Terry Jones

NFU Director General

Terry Jones re-joined the NFU as its Director General in April 2016. For five years previously he had been running food industry trade associations. In 2011 he joined the Food & Drink Federation (FDF) as its Director of Communications, where he sought to bring to life how food manufacturers could deliver increased rates of sustainable growth.

Leaving FDF at the end of 2014, he took up the post of DG at the Provision Trade Federation (PTF) looking after the interests of businesses involved in the UK bacon and dairy trade.

Before working at FDF and PTF Terry worked for the NFU from 2002-2011 in a variety of roles including Head of Government Affairs, Head of Food Chain and Director of Communications.

Terry lives in Cheshire with his wife Emma and their two daughters.


Abi Kay

Deputy Editor, Farmer’s Weekly

Abi is deputy editor at Farmers Weekly.

Previously she worked at Farmers Guardian as Head of News, and in the NFU’s government and parliamentary affairs team.

She began her career in Parliament, where she worked for six years. She has won a number of accolades for agricultural journalism, including the Young Leaders in Agricultural Journalism Award from the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists.



Dr Zoe Leach OBE

NFU East Regional Director

Zoe joined the National Farmers’ Union in August 2023 and is the Regional Director for the East Region. This involves looking after NFU members’ interests from North Norfolk to West Sussex. 

Zoe’s passion is to ensure that members are properly represented and supported by the NFU, and in turn that they understand the significant benefits that being a member of such an incredible organisation brings.

Prior to joining the NFU, she worked for the National Pig Association from 2008 to 2022. She took on the role of Chief Executive Officer in 2014 and led the organisation through some very turbulent times.

This followed five years working in the Livestock Science Unit within Defra where she managed the research and development portfolio on livestock production.

Previous to that she ran a large pig rearing unit and trials facility for the integrated pig production company BQP in Suffolk. She gained a PhD in outdoor sow management and welfare with Cambac JMR Research in 1998.

Zoe has been awarded the OBE in the first King’s Birthday honours list. She was granted the honour in recognition of her services to the pig industry.

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.

Steven Leil

Compliance Scheme Manager, NFU Energy

Steven is the Compliance Scheme Manager at NFU Energy. He is the operational lead on the project which has commenced in collaboration with NFU Sugar and Nestle.

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).

Alan Lovell

Chair, Environment Agency

Alan is best known for the rescue and restructuring of companies.

Since 2015 he has held Non-Executive Director and Chair positions, including NED for the last 10 weeks of Carillion, and Chair of Interserve. He is now a non-executive director and senior independent director of SIG plc. 


Philip Maddocks

Owner, PDM Produce

Phil runs PDM Produce, the UK’s second largest wholehead lettuce grower and the UK’s largest grower packer of bagged salads.

He started his business in 1991 with a loan from his father, growing 10 acres of iceberg lettuce. In 2007 Philip began growing spinach and babyleaf crops and producing bagged salads.

Aimee Mahony

Chief adviser (poultry), National Farmers' Union

Aimee joined the NFU as poultry adviser in 2016 following four years working in the egg sector for Noble Foods.

In 2019 Aimee was named the EPIC Young Poultry Person of the Year and eight months later was appointed NFU chief poultry adviser.

Aimee leads the NFU poultry team on a number of policy issues covering both the poultry meat and egg sectors and manages the national poultry board.

Louise Manning

Professor of Sustainable Agri Food Systems, Lincoln Institute for Agri-food Technology, University of Lincoln

Undertaking consultancy and research for over 35 years, Louise informs policy, business productivity and efficiency and personal development in the agri-food sector. 

Her research and consultancy expertise focusses on food security, sustainability, resilience, and food integrity. Louise is also involved in broiler production on her family farm in Herefordshire.

William Maughan

Arable, beef and poultry farmer

William is the NFU Council delegate for North Riding & Durham, having previously served as the County Chair for 2 years and newly elected Chair of the North Regional Board.

He is a predominantly tenanted farmer on the Raby estate, situated just west of Darlington. The farm consists of around 500 mixed acres, 200 head of cattle, arable and 30,000 free range layers.

James Mottershead

NFU Poultry Board chair, Midlands

James is a broiler producer from the midlands; the family business farms 1000 acres of arable and has invested heavily in renewable technologies such as biomass heating, solar and wind power over the past ten years.

James is a previous chair of the NFU Poultry Industry Programme and has always been passionate about ensuring the voice of younger members is well represented.

He is keen for the board to address issues surrounding labour shortages, resilience and supply chain fairness and believes these are some of the industry's main priorities.


Kate Nicholls

CEO, UKHospitality

Kate Nicholls OBE has been CEO of UKHospitality, the powerful voice representing the broad hospitality sector, since its inception in 2018, having previously worked as CEO and Strategic Affairs Director of the ALMR.

Kate is Chair of the Tourism Alliance and co-Chair of the London Tourism Recovery Board, representing the needs of the wider tourism sector in discussions with Government and the Mayor of London. She sits on the Government’s Tourism, Hospitality and Food & Drink Sector Councils and has previously Chaired the London Night-time Commission. She is a Board member of Best Bar None, PASS and is a trustee at Hospitality Action. In July 2021, she was appointed as the first Government Disability Ambassador for hospitality, promoting inclusivity. Kate was appointed co-Chair of the London & Partners’ Tourism Advisory Group in November 2022, who have a critical role in turning London’s 2030 Tourism Vision into reality.

Kate initially worked as a researcher in the House of Commons and European Parliament on food, employment and environmental policy before joining Whitbread to work in Strategic Affairs. She has extensive experience as a political and strategic communications consultant and is a graduate of Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge and Kings College London.


Michael Oakes

NFU Dairy Board chair (2016-2024)

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.

James Osman

NFU Special Projects Manager

James Osman has been with the NFU for over 10 years, spending the last four years as Chief Dairy Adviser.

He leads the dairy team and works closely with the Dairy Board to drive forward their priorities and represent dairy farmer members.

James has recently taken on the position of Special Projects Manager for the NFU, working on a number of sector specific and cross-sector focused projects and supply chain reviews.

As a graduate of Environmental Science from Southampton University, he has a keen interest in environmental issues and climate change. James grew up on a family dairy farm, and also runs a diversified beef farm business on the Isle of Wight with a farm shop.   


Abi Reader

NFU Cymru Deputy President

The farm is home to milking cows, sheep, beef cattle and around 120 acres of arable. Abi is a co-founder of Cows on Tour, an Open Farm Sunday host and a former NFU Cymru Wales Woman Farmer of the Year. In 2019 she was honoured by the Queen with an MBE for her services to agriculture.

Abi is a third generation mixed farmer, farming in partnership with her parents and uncle in Wenvoe, just outside Cardiff.

Verity Richards

Dairy policy specialist, National Farmers' Union

Verity has been with the NFU for nearly eight years, starting on the graduate scheme before originally joining the dairy team back in 2017.

She spent three years working for the British Agriculture Bureau as a European policy adviser in Brussels, representing the UK Farming Unions through the Brexit transition and helping to build new trading relationships with the EU.

Re-joining the NFU's dairy team in the summer of 2022, Verity works closely with the National Dairy Board on areas such as exports and trade, air quality, farmer representation and helps to manage supply chain relationships.

She studied political science at Exeter University and grew up on a mixed arable and livestock farm on the Herefordshire border.

Sophy Ridge

Broadcast Journalist, Sky News

Sophy Ridge is Sky's lead politics presenter, fronting Politics Hub with Sophy Ridge at 7pm.

She was previously the first woman to present a Sunday morning political show - anchoring Sophy Ridge on Sunday from 2017 to 2023.

Sophy has interviewed Prime Ministers past and present, including Rishi Sunak, Liz Truss, Boris Johnson, Theresa May, David Cameron, Gordon Brown and Tony Blair. She has anchored coverage from Washington and Brussels and was in Downing Street to witness the first and last days in office for Boris Johnson, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak.

Before presenting, she was senior political correspondent, where she was first to break the news that Jeremy Corbyn had won the Labour leadership contest and that Ed Miliband would resign as leader of the party.

In 2017 Sophy published The Women Who Shaped Politics, a book on the history of women in Westminster.
Before joining Sky News in 2011 she worked for the News of the World focusing on political, business and consumer stories.

Delyth Robinson

Dairy farmer

Delyth, a partner in a South West Wales family dairy and beef business, is a Harper Adams graduate with experience in milk and meat processing also ruminant feed. 

She is also a former NFU Cymru Next Generation Group member. Currently, Delyth is a Farmer Time participant and NFU Farmers for Schools Ambassador, as well as the founder of Mootiful Soap Co.

Tim Rooke

NFU Potato Policy Group chair | NFU Horticulture and Potatoes Board vice chair

Tim was elected as chair of the NFU Potato Policy Group in 2022. He is a third generation farmer who grows 600 acres of processing and crisping potatoes in Ryedale, North Yorkshire.

He farms in partnership with his brother and has a mixture of tenanted and owned farms. He also grows wheat, oats, and oilseed rape.

Previously, he has been a member of United Potato Farmers Limited, a director of Alpha Group, and member of the AHDB potatoes marketing group.

John Royle

Chief Livestock Adviser

John has been chief livestock adviser since November 2014.

John is responsible for representing the interests of beef and sheep members on a wide range of policy issues. The livestock team manage the national livestock board and uplands forum.

Matt Ryan

Regeneration Lead, Nestlé UK & Ireland

Matt leads Nestle UK&I’s efforts to transition its locally sourced ingredients to regenerative production systems which protect and restore the natural resources we all depend upon.

He is committed to delivering positive environmental outcomes in support of long-term resilience and an advocate for grassroots, locally relevant action to address global challenges.


Michael Sly

NFU Sugar Board chair

Michael chairs NFU Sugar Board meetings and is the lead spokesperson representing sugar beet growers with British Sugar, the media, NFU Council and NFU Policy Board. He represents growers in monthly meetings and annual contract negotiations with British Sugar, playing a key role in the NFU Sugar negotiating team.

Michael farms in the Fens of North Cambridgeshire and South Lincolnshire, farming 2000 hectares, across three farming businesses. The family has been involved in drainage and farming in the Fens since the 17th century.

The farms grow wheat, spring barley, sugar beet, spring beans, oilseed rape, marrowfat peas and condiment mustard. They are part of the RSPB’s Farmland Bird Friendly Zone, which now covers more than 4000 hectares and landscape scale benefits covering 230km sq. Also with fellow mustard growers, they are working on a landscape scale bee and pollinator project with Unilever.

Michael has also served as NFU county chair and the council delegate for Cambridgeshire, the most farmed county in the UK, chairing the East Anglian regional board for four years, as well serving as chair of the NFU Audit committee.

Michael is chair of the North Level District Internal Drainage Board, serving 34,000 hectares. He spent 10 years on the Anglian Northern Regional Flood and Coastal Committee. He is currently chair of the English Mustard Growers and vice chair of Condimentum LTD for the milling of mustard seeds and processing mint leaf in Norwich, working with Unilever’s Colman’s brand.

Dan Sokell

Managing Director, LENS East of England

Dan established the East of England (EOE) LENs in 2019 and continues to lead delivery of the scheme. To date it has contracted £6m between buyers of ecosystem services and 110 farm businesses in the East of England area.

The Rt Hon Sir Mark Spencer MP

Minister of State for Farming, Fisheries and Food (Defra)

Mark Spencer was appointed Minister of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in September 2022.

He was previously Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons from February 2022 to September 2022, before which he was Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Chief Whip) between July 2019 and February 2022. He was elected Conservative MP for Sherwood in May 2010.

Before entering Parliament, Mark was Chairman of the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs as well as a District and County Councillor.

He studied at Shuttleworth Agricultural College before joining the family farm business, which now employs around 50 people. He is still a local farmer and businessman, growing the produce which is sold in the farm shop.

Rishi Sunak

Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

Rishi Sunak has been leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister since 25 October 2022.

Rishi was previously Chancellor of the Exchequer from 13 February 2020 to 5 July 2022.

He was previously Chief Secretary to the Treasury from 24 July 2019 to 13 February 2020, and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government from 9 January 2018 to 24 July 2019.

Rishi was elected Conservative MP for Richmond (Yorks) in May 2015 and served as a Parliamentary Private Secretary at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy from June 2017 until his ministerial appointment.

Rishi went to Winchester College and studied Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Oxford University. He was also a Fulbright Scholar at Stanford University (USA) where he studied for his MBA.


Luke Thomas

Sheep and Beef farmer, Treguddick Farm, Cornwall

Luke Thomas, farms in partnership with his parents at Treguddick Farm, Launceston, Cornwall. 

They operate a mixed farming enterprise, consisting of a pedigree South Devon Suckler herd, Pedigree flock of Dorset Sheep, Cereals and Roots over 500 acres. Luke is the 3rd generation on the farm which is a mix of owned and tenanted land.

Sophie Throup

Technical and Sustainability Director (Manufacturing), Morrisons

Sophie joined Morrisons in November 2017, following 10 years in the veterinary sector running research and training programmes.

She heads Agriculture and Sustainable Sourcing policy and programmes for Morrisons and is the Technical and Sustainability Director for the manufacturing business.

Joe Twyman

Co-founder and Director, Deltapoll

One of Britain’s best known political pollsters, Joe Twyman is Co-Founder and Director of the global public opinion consultancy Deltapoll.

He previously worked as Head of Political and Social Research at YouGov and was a director at the founding of the company back in 2000.


Derek Wilkinson

NFU Horticulture and Potatoes Board co-optee

Derek was vice chair of the NFU Horticulture and Potatoes Board between 2018 and 2024. He is Managing Director of Sandfields Farms Ltd (part of The Shropshire Group).

He is Managing Director of Sandfields Farms Ltd (part of the G’s Group), growing over 1600ha of salads and vegetables for the major retailers, plus a West Africa farm business in Senegal which produces over 400 ha of winter salads for the UK and EU market.

Sam Williamson

NFU Sugar Adviser

Sam works with the wider NFU policy and sector teams to ensure that sugar is represented in cross-sector policy consultations impacting the future of the industry.

The role extends to public affairs and communications, working closely with the wider industry to ensure that sugar growers' interests are heard by government. He also oversees NFU Sugar grower engagement.

Sam was on the NFU agricultural policy graduate scheme prior to joining the NFU Sugar team.


Daniel Zeichner MP

Shadow Minister for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Daniel was elected to Parliament as MP for Cambridge in May 2015, and has been serving on the Labour frontbench as Shadow Minister for Farming, Food, Fisheries and Rural Affairs for the last three years.

He previously served as Shadow Transport Minister from September 2015 – 2017 and was a member of the Transport Select Committee from September 2017 – November 2019.

Daniel founded and chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on Data Analytics, is chair of the All Party Parliamentary University Group and the All Party Parliamentary Group for Life Sciences, and is Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for the East of England among others.

Daniel has a History degree from the University of Cambridge, and on leaving university ran a small nursery with his partner in rural Norfolk before embarking on a career in computer programming.

This page was first published on 06 February 2024. It was updated on 20 February 2024.