Heading up NFU East has been ‘amazing experience’, says outgoing director

Robert Sheasby, East Anglia regional director at the National Farmers' Union.

Robert Sheasby, East Anglia regional director at the National Farmers' Union. - Credit: Gregg Brown

National Farmers Union (NFU) East regional director Robert Sheasby said he will miss the job, members and the team at Newmarket when he leaves to take up his new role leading the Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC) later this year.

“It’s the members that make the NFU the great organisation it is. It has been an amazing experience - really enjoyable,” he said.

Robert, who has been in the role for nearly three years, joined the NFU in 2001 working in various roles before taking up the East Anglian post in 2015.

His tenure has “not been without challenge”, he admits, with a momentous few years including two general elections, three environment secretaries and a Brexit referendum.

“It’s not been quiet,” he said. But he was “delighted and excited” about his new role at the AIC and “can’t wait to start”.

He paid tribute to current chief executive, David Caffall, whose role he will take on.

“David Caffal has done an amazing job,” he said.

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There was now a mood of uncertainty as the industry awaits the outcome of the Brexit talks, new environmental policy and an agriculture bill this year, he added.

On top of this, crop prices are “all over the place” and unpredictable weather patterns presented a challenge, he said. However, the recent rains were welcome as they would refill aquifers for the coming season.

It was unclear what the future held, but the NFU was engaging with members about what they wanted to see.

His new role would be different, but would still involve lobbying government on agricultural issues.

Recruitment for the regional director job is due to start on Friday, January 12.