A new regional director has been appointed to lead the National Farmers’ Union on behalf of members in Yorkshire and the North East.
Experienced farming specialist, Richard Pearson, has stepped into the role to replace predecessor Barney Kay who has left the post he took up in July 2011 to join Northern Irish poultry producers Moy Park.
Born in Beverley, Mr Pearson grew up on a farm in Malton where he worked during school holidays, washing out the pig sheds and stacking bales before he headed to Harper Adams University to take a degree in Agricultural Marketing.
He joins the NFU after a varied career across the agriculture sector that has taken him around the country working for a mixture of large and small companies in the arable, horticulture and allied industry sectors.
Having graduated in 1992, Mr Pearson started out as a grain trader for Allied Grain in East Anglia which is now part of Frontier Agriculture. During his time at Allied Grain he gained an insight into cereal farming and the fertiliser trade.
He then moved into the horticulture sector working as commercial manager for a large vegetable producer in Suffolk where he was in charge of harvesting and selling.
His next step was to join an import and export company where he gained first-hand experience of working with major retail customers and dealing with imports and exports from and to the Iberian Peninsula.
Moving back to Yorkshire in 2000, he set up his own agricultural machinery business, Thermoweed in Malton, catering for the organic sector before he joined another new business, London-based Weeding Technologies Limited, which specialises in developing environmentally-friendly weed control technologies.
When the latter firm decided to move increasingly into the ‘amenity’ market, Mr Pearson realised he was keen on a return to mainstream agriculture.
In his new role at the NFU, Mr Pearson operates out of the membership organisation’s North East headquarters in York. He said: “I am delighted to take up my new role with the NFU in a region as diverse as the North East.
“Farming really is a passion for me and I am looking forward to working with our 6,000 members across Yorkshire, Durham and Northumberland.
“Obviously I come very much from a commercial background, but I hope that will enable me to bring something new to the role, as I find out more about the specific challenges and opportunities facing farmers across the patch.”
He said his initial priorities include the implementation of the latest round of Common Agricultural Policy reform and looking at how the industry can better cope with extreme weather patterns which are increasingly affecting the region.
“However to begin with I will be concentrating on meeting as many members as possible and getting a real feel for their needs, aspirations and views on how the NFU can best support their business development,” he added.
Mr Pearson, 43, still lives in Malton, with his wife Polly and his three children Kate, nine, Annie, seven, and Tom, five.
Calling in on a retail giant
One of Mr Pearson’s first appointments was at Morrisons’ headquarters in Bradford this week as part of a tour to promote the NFU’s Back British Farming charter.
The firm’s group corporate services director Martyn Jones signed the charter which calls on the public, politicians, retailers and the food industry to help Britain produce, source and consume more home-grown food.
“What we need is commitment from these companies to give our farmers confidence to invest in the future,” Mr Pearson said.