New chairmen announced for NFU sector boards

North-east dairy farmer Paul Tompkins is the new chairman of the NFU Dairy Board, joining a number of new faces heading up the various sector boards following elections this week.

Following his appointment, Mr Tompkins said the dairy sector was “at a point in time”, with the new Fair Dealings Obligations (Milk) Regulations for contracts recently laid in parliament and on track to reach assent this July.

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“A vibrant, profitable, sustainable future is an ambition shared by all farmers, but it can only be achieved with effective regulation, a functional supply chain, a commitment to eradicating cattle diseases and growing access to markets at home and overseas,” he said.

Mr Tompkins originally worked in the financial sector before joining his wife’s family dairy business. He first joined the Dairy Board in 2017 as an appointee, before being elected as the North East representative.

He paid tribute to immediate past chairman Michael Oakes for his dedication over the past eight years.

Combinable crops

Another new sector chairman is eastern counties farmer Jamie Burrows, who now leads the Combinable Crops Board.

Mr Burrows, who farms in Hertfordshire and Norfolk, is one half of Sandcross Farming, which farms about 1,000ha producing milling and feed wheat, milling oats, feed and malting barley, and peas. They also run a horse livery and riding business.

Jamie Burrows

Jamie Burrows © NFU

His immediate priorities include a renewed focus on fairness and transparency in the supply chain, and ensuring the sector makes its voice heard in the upcoming review into farm assurance.

“I really want our members’ thoughts, feelings and opinions to be at the centre of what we do as a board going forward,” he said.


Representing the livestock sector will be David Barton, who has stepped up to the chairman’s role of the NFU’s national Livestock Board, after previously serving as vice-chairman to previous incumbent Richard Findlay.

Mr Barton was born and raised on his family farm in the Cotswolds, where he farms suckler beef and cereals, and has a small flock of pedigree poll Dorset sheep.

David Barton

David Barton © NFU

He has worked with the AHDB as a strategic farm, and has various Countryside Stewardship grassland options, such as GS4 herbal leys, which he uses to rear and finish predominately grass-fed beef.

Following his appointment, Mr Barton said the key issue for the sector was sustainability.

“The British red meat industry has a great story to tell and we deliver some of the best produce in the world, but we need a benchmark to track our carbon footprint and show our value to the public.

“We also need to ensure that the developing Environmental Land Management schemes work for all grassland farmers, including those in the uplands.”


Martin Emmett has been re-elected as chairman of the NFU’s national Horticulture and Potatoes Board for a second two-year term, having first been elected in 2022.

He is a director of Tristram Plants, part of the Farplants co-operative, which grows and markets more than 2,000 plant varieties and generates more than £50m annual sales through retail.

Martin Emmett

Martin Emmett © NFU

Mr Emmett stressed the importance of working together to raise the voices of members from across the country, particularly in a general election year.

“The most immediate issue for me is the outstanding uncertainty of the Seasonal Workers Scheme,” he said. “The situation right now is not tenable for growing businesses, and there will be consequences to next years’ production.”


Elections for the chairmanship of the NFU national Poultry Board, a position currently held by broiler grower James Mottershead, will take place next Wednesday (27 March).

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