Sainsbury's has created a new post to help improve the day-to-day relationship with its dairy and beef farmers.

Chief executive Justin King announced the appointment of Annie Graham as agricultural manager at this week's NFU conference in Birmingham.

Graham was head of producer groups at ABP - a role that involved liaising with farmers and helping them become more efficient.

"Annie has worked with Sainsbury's through ABP for a long time and comes from a farming background," said King. "Annie's main focus to begin with will be to work with Sainsbury's Dairy Development Group and extend our Farm Connections project into sectors beyond beef and develop our Partnership in Livestock scheme."

Graham helped to launch Farm Connections with Sainsbury's - a project that has given 1700 farmers computers, software and the training to help manage their farms.

ABP is one of Britain's biggest beef processors, with major contracts to supply Sainsbury's and Asda, as well as smaller retailers, wholesalers and food service.

King also said 12 "regional champions" would be appointed to work within Sainsbury's trading teams and develop the regional sourcing programme.