Michael Oakes NFU

West Midlands dairy farmer Michael Oakes has been elected as the NFU’s new national dairy board chairman.

Oakes, a tenant farmer who runs a herd of 180 Holstein cows at Rednal near Birmingham, steps up from the post of vice chairman to succeed Rob Harrison, who decided not to run for a second two-year term in order to concentrate on running his dairy farm.

“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,” Oakes said.

“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,” he added. “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.”

Oakes added the dairy sector needed to “build newer, stronger relationships throughout the supply chain in order to create economic stability”, and pointed out that consumers had “made it clear” they wanted to see a thriving British dairy sector that was sustainable in the long term.

“We need to ensure they can continue to buy high-quality British dairy products in the future,” he added.

West Yorkshire-based dairy farmer Tom Rawson was elected by NFU members as the board’s vice chairman.

It follows the re-election of Meurig Raymond as president of the NFU last month. Deputy president Minette Batters and vice president Guy Smith were also re-elected.