Former Defra minister Lord Rooker is set to replace Dame Deirdre Hutton as chair of the FSA.

Rooker, a Labour MP and peer for 35 years, will take up the appointment subject to approval by the health select committee on Monday.

The news emerged in a parliamentary answer to David Taylor, a member of the environment, food and rural affairs committee, who was concerned about how long the succession was taking. Hutton announced her departure last December.

"The FSA chairmanship is a crucial post, and the process seemed to really be dragging on," Taylor told The Grocer. "But Rooker will be an effective chair. He was a successful minister and will really get to the heart of things in a post that's very important to the industry and to British consumers. The UK has had its fair share of food crises, and the FSA plays an important role in tackling these."

Industry bodies have also welcomed Rooker's appointment. "Lord Rooker's long political experience and understanding of the many food issues facing society make him an excellent candidate for this challenging role," said FDF director general Melanie Leech. "We have enjoyed working with Lord Rooker in his previous ministerial roles, most recently in Defra, and we look forward to developing that relationship."

Opposition parties expressed concerns about Rooker's impartiality, given his long tenure with Labour, but he has agreed to resign the Labour whip and will sit as an "independent Labour" peer. He has also resigned his post as president of the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers, which he has held for less than a month.

"We are naturally disappointed by Lord Rooker's decision to resign from the position of RABDF president, assuming the appointment is confirmed," said chief executive Nick Everington. "We understand the reasons for his decision and believe he is an appropriate person for the job. Our immediate past president, Lady Byford, has agreed to resume the position until a successor is confirmed."