Two new faces join NFU national dairy board

25 March 2021


Two new faces are joining the NFU national dairy board to help champion dairy and represent the causes of the sector.

Ruari Martin and Jessica Langton have both been appointed and will serve alongside the eight regionally elected members and chairman Michael Oakes. Two other appointees, Gemma Smale-Rowland and Ian Harvey, remain on the board.

Next-generation farmer

Jessica Langton, at 21, is possibly the youngest person ever to sit on an NFU commodity board. She is currently in her second year at the University of Nottingham studying animal science, as well as working part-time for Genus ABS on the Insights Programme as a reproductive management specialist.

Jessica is fourth generation on the family dairy farm in Derbyshire, where the milking herd is predominantly pedigree Holsteins and Friesians, with some grazing genetics incorporated to boost constituents.

Jessica said: “I applied to become an NFU dairy board appointee as I want to help contribute to tailoring the future of the dairy industry. As the next generation of a dairy farm, it is really important to me that a long-lasting, sustainable plan is in place for the future.

“I’m aiming to help shape the dairy roadmap to promote a sustainable future, help put plans in place to mitigate diseases, help contribute to dairy-related social media posts to display positive perceptions of the industry to the public, and help obtain funding and knowledge to support dairy farmers in the transition from BPS to Environment Land Management schemes (ELMs).”

Business specialism

Ruari Martin is director of farm operations and innovations at Myerscough College near Preston in Lancashire. Not from a farming background, he grew up in the Pennines and attended Myerscough to do a degree due to aspirations to be a farm manager later in life. While there, Ruari carried out relief milking and contract shepherding in a bid to gain as much practical experience as possible. After spells as a cattle nutritionist, dairy consultant and livestock manager on a large 8,000-acre estate in Nottinghamshire, he returned to Myerscough College to take up the position of farms director.

Ruari said: “It was attending NFU Conference a few years back that really inspired me to apply to be a dairy board appointee. Being sat in the dairy breakout room and contributing to all of the debates and conversation, it was fascinating discussing all of the issues the industry is facing. I thought then that I’d like to get involved in that two-way dialogue with government and other organisations, putting forward the industry’s point of view and representing the needs of dairy farmers.

“Not being from a farming family background I think will mean I bring something different to the board. I come at this from a hard-headed business perspective. I’ve completed a master’s degree in international leadership management to see how big multinational corporations, such as Coca Cola and Unilever, manage their supply chains, corporate social responsibilities and consumer preferences. I hope to bring those insights back to the agricultural industry and start to try and pass that on to my peers and strengthen the lobbying and campaigning power of the farming industry. We need to have as much business acumen as we can on our side to understand what the multinationals are pushing.

“If you couple that with the political economy - all the issues now we have left the EU, changes in domestic agricultural policy with the introduction of ELM and how that will impact UK farming, and dairy specifically - it all really interests me, and I hope to contribute to all of those conversations over the next 12 months.”

Apointee changeover

The new appointees will have a full induction into the NFU to find out how the various departments work, including policy, communications, and external affairs, and will join the board at its next meeting in May.

The NFU dairy team would like to thank the outgoing dairy board appointees, Phil Latham and Tim Lock, for their hard work, enthusiasm and contributions to the board over the years that they have been involved.

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