News review 2016: Hello and goodbye to

We lost some familiar farming faces during 2016 – and we also welcomed some new ones. We said goodbye to industry stalwarts and hello to some new politicians as they took on the farming brief following a series of ministerial reshuffles.


Andrea Leadsom

Andrea Leadsom

© Joel Goodman/LNP/REX/Shutterstock

Would-be prime minister Andrea Leadsom was rewarded with the Defra brief after withdrawing from the Tory Party leadership race against eventual winner Theresa May.

Rachel Maskell

rachael maskell on farm

© Erica Lewis

Rachel Maskell was appointed shadow Defra secretary – replacing vegan MP Kerry McCarthy, who resigned in protest at Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour leadership during the EU referendum campaign.

Lesley Griffiths


Lesley Griffiths © Debbie James

Lesley Griffiths got off to a rocky start as the Welsh government’s rural affairs secretary – enraging the industry by suggesting farmers were poor businessmen.

Fergus Ewing

Fergus Ewing

Fergus Ewing © Scottish-Government

The Inverness and Nairn MSP was appointed as the Scottish government’s rural economy secretary – succeeding Richard Lochhead, who stepped down after nine years.

Terry Jones

Terry Jones

Terry Jones rejoined the NFU as director general – marking a return to the union after five years at the Food and Drink Federation and then as director general of the Provision Trade Federation.



European Union

EU referendum box

We’re not out yet, of course, but 2016 marked the beginning of the end for the UK’s EU membership, following a referendum which saw well over 50% of farmers vote to leave.

Reg Haydon

Reg Haydon

Former Tenant Farmers’ Association chairman Reg Haydon died just before his 84th birthday. The TFA said the farming industry had lost a true giant.

Gerald Grosvenor, Duke of Westminster

The Duke of Westminster

© David Hartley/Rex/Shutterstock

The billionaire landowner, soldier and rural philanthropist – a word he hated – who gave farmers a rent holiday after the 2001 foot-and-mouth crisis, died aged 64.

Liz Truss

Liz Truss

© Tim Scrivener

Defra secretary Liz Truss tweeted that she was “sad to be leaving” after “two fantastic years” to take up a new role as justice secretary. We’ll miss her speeches about opening up pork markets…

Richard Lochhead

Richard Lochhead

Richard Lochhead © David Hartley/Rex/Shutterstock

Having served as Scotland’s rural affairs secretary since 2007, Richard Lochhead stood down in May 2016 as Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon appointed her second government.

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