Farmers union appoints Brexit head

Nick von Westenholz will head the Brexit unit at the National Farmers Union (NFU) as it moves to strengthen and extend its political reach following the UK public’s fateful decision.

Nick von Westenholz, currently CEO of the Crop Protection Association, will join the NFU as director of EU exit and international trade. His remit will be to ensure a co-ordinated and constant presence in the NFU’s Brexit conversations with government.

The new Brexit team is part of the NFU’s strategy to refocus and strengthen its government and external affairs teams in London. It aims to ensure it positions itself effectively to represent its 46,000 farmer and grower members amid all-important Brexit negotiations.

“We have made no secret of our determination to seize opportunities offered by forthcoming Brexit deals to ensure British farming has a profitable and productive future,” said NFU director general Terry Jones.

'Strategically important'

“Farming and food production is politically and strategically important for the UK. Farming provides the raw ingredients for the UK’s food and drink sector worth £108 billion, supporting 3.9 million jobs for people nation-wide as well as delivering high quality, traceable food for a growing population.

“In the coming weeks and months ahead it is essential that food and farming is front and centre of any talks about the UK’s relationship with Europe and the rest of the world. I am confident the building blocks being put in place now will ensure the NFU is able to work with the two new government departments, Exiting the EU and International Trade.”

'Exciting future'

Von Westenholz, who is a trained barrister and previously worked with the NFU as its head of government affairs, said: “While Brexit presents clear challenges to UK farming in the coming years, if we get it right it offers the prospect of an exciting future, both to the benefit of domestic food production and our precious natural environment.

“The NFU has shown a strong intent to be on the front foot in getting the best out of Brexit for British farmers and I’m immensely excited about stepping up to that task on behalf of the NFU’s members.”

The NFU has also started recruiting for a new head of external affairs and two new external affairs managers to strengthen its London presence.

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