Ousted NFU president Tim Bennett has re-emerged as a new chairman in the reformed levy board system. Bennett, who was voted out of the farmers' union a year ago, will now lead the milk sector company.

Five other chairmen have also been appointed to the levy's remaining sector companies: John Cross for beef and lamb; Jonathan Tipples for cereals; John Hall for horticulture; Stewart Houston for pigs; and Janet Bainbridge for potatoes.

The chairmen can now start to map out the board's future role and will report to John Bridge, who is chairing Levy Board UK - the umbrella organisation set up to manage the reform and support the new sector companies.

The new system must be up and running by April 2008, when the old levy boards will be dismantled.

"This is a strong team that will ensure Levy Board UK makes a difference and will drive efficiency in key sectors of the agricultural and horticultural industries," said Bridge.

Kevin Roberts is also joining Levy Board UK as chief executive from his role at the head of the MLC. The board's first meeting will take place on 5 and 6 March. It has a year to respond to criticism of the levy board system and come up with a more responsive structure.

At the MLC, Richard Lowe has been promoted to chief executive. He has worked at the levy board for eight years, as marketing director and later as consumer affairs director.

Lowe's appointment comes at a difficult time for the MLC, which is due to be disbanded in April next year.

"The MLC has to deliver over the next 12 months," said Lowe. "There are big issues facing the meat and livestock industry such as climate change, health and the need to improve our competitiveness within the global marketplace."