Review of 2012: Hello and goodbye

A number of figures made their mark on 2012, as we chart the past year in farming we take a look at who said hello and and who said goodbye over the 12 months.


Adam Quinney

Warwickshire beef producer Adam Quinney (pictured right) was surprise winner when elected NFU vice-president in February. Since taking up the post, he has travelled thousands of miles to build closer links between the union’s hierarchy and its members, as well as campaigning tirelessly on behalf of farmers affected by bovine TB.

Owen Paterson (c) Rex

Owen Paterson

Former Northern Ireland secretary Owen Paterson has proved no stranger to controversy since taking the helm at DEFRA in September. His no nonsense approach and outspoken views on Europe, climate change, renewable energy and GM crops has won him friends and enemies in almost equal amount.

David Heath (c) Rex Features

David Heath

The former optician became the first Liberal farm minister for almost a century in a Cabinet reshuffle that saw his predecessor Jim Paice ruthlessly axed while attending Livestock 2012 in September.

His somewhat unkempt bearded appearance gives the Somerton & Frome MP the air of a sixth form geography teacher. But he has shown signs of early promise and that he is willing to listen during parliamentary debates on livestock exports and a grocery code adjudicator.

Brian May (c) Rex Features

Brian May

The Queen guitarist became the ageing poster boy for animal rights activists campaigning against a badger cull to combat bovine tuberculosis in cattle – leading to more than one “We will brock you” headline.

He came across as passionate, plausible and persuasive – even though his arguments were sometimes flawed, as he acknowledged himself following one BBC interview. With a cull due next summer, he will be determined that the show must go on throughout 2013.


Every self-respecting Twitter group needs to have a catchy hashtag and #clubhectare, an informal group of farmers exchanging views on everything from the weather to weather girls, became the one to follow during 2012.

Co-founded by Yorkshire farmer Jonathan Dixon, it now has its own merchandise including shirts, car stickers and lapel badges. Those green and gold rugby tops will be out in force when the club holds its first birthday bash in February.

Gavin Grant

Gavin Grant

The RSPCA has adopted a hard-hitting approach since the former chairman of PR giant Burson-Marsteller took over the reigns in early 2012. Not everyone agrees with his approach but there’s no denying he knows how to manipulate the media.

Shock tactics – including photos showing a pile of dead sheep and a call to name and shame farmers participating in a badger cull – mean the RSPCA has overtaken the RSPB as the animal charity that farmers love to hate.


Jim Paice (c) Rex Features

Jim Paice

Farm minister Jim Paice was controversially sacked in the government’s Cabinet reshuffle after 23 years on the Conservative front bench.

David Cameron told Sir Jim over the phone that he was being axed while attending Livestock 2012 in Birmingham in September.

Sir Jim, 63, was crowned 2012 Farming Champion at the Farmers Weekly Awards for “working tirelessly to fund practical solutions for British farming”.

Dominic Dyer

Dominic Dyer stepped down as chief executive of the Crop Protection Association after four-and-a-half years.

Mr Dyer, a key voice of the UK plant science lobby, left in June to “pursue new opportunities and challenges in the non-governmental and charitable sectors”.

He said it had been a “huge privilege” to lead the CPA and “raise awareness of the vital importance of crop protection and other plant science technologies to secure our food supplies.”

Caroline Spelman

Caroline Spelman (c) Rex Features

Caroline Spelman was ousted as DEFRA secretary in David Cameron’s Cabinet reshuffle.

Mrs Spelman had held the post since the coalition formed in May 2010 but former Northern Ireland secretary Owen Paterson replaced her.

A humiliating U-turn on the proposed £100m sale of national forests blighted her tenure last year.

Nevin Spence

Promising rugby star Nevin Spence died alongside his brother and father in a slurry pit accident on the family farm in Hillsborough, County Down, in September.

The 22-year-old Ulster rugby player had been tipped as a future full international for Ireland.

Nevin’s sister Emma, who survived the accident, said her dad and brothers would be remembered as “extraordinary, hard-working gentlemen”.

Kim-Marie Haywood

Kim-Marie Haywood

National Beef Association director Kim-Marie Haywood resigned in February after five years in the role.

The NBA said Ms Haywood had decided to leave her role at the association to “seek new opportunities elsewhere”.

She had been suspended from duties in October 2011 after an interim board was installed to review the management and organisational structures of the NBA.

See more