West Midlands farmer Micheal Oakes has been elected to replace Rob Harrison as chairman of the NFU dairy board.
He started his tenure in the high-profile role by promising the dairy board would ’pull together’ to deliver ’clear aims and objectives’ for NFU members.
Mr Oakes, a tenant farmer who runs a closed herd of 180 pedigree Holsteins at Rednal near Birmingham, had served as Mr Harrison’s deputy and was favourite to succeed him in the role.
Tom Rawson, a dairy farmer from West Yorkshire, was elected as the board’s new vice chairman.
NFU dairy chairman is always a high-profile, and often politically charged, role, never more so than now with the sector continuing to struggle as a result of the prolonged market downturn.
Mr Harrison announced towards the end of last year he was stepping down from the high profile role to concentrate on his Gloucestershire farm.
Mr Oakes paid tribute to his predecessor.
He said: “I’d like to thank Rob for his tireless work in what has been an extremely testing period for the dairy industry over the past two years."
Moving onto the immediate challenges facing the sector, he added: “We all know the prospects in the short term for the sector are not good and many dairy farmers are at the end of their tether as they continue to experience very low prices.
"I’m sure it won’t be an easy ride for any of us – we therefore need to pull together as a national board with clear aims and objectives ensuring NFU members know that they are not on their own.
"We need to build newer, stronger relationships throughout the supply chain in order to create economic stability.
“Consumers have made it clear that they want to see a thriving British dairy sector that is sustainable in the long-term – we need to ensure that they can continue to buy high quality British dairy products in the future.”