NFU bolsters team as it gears up for Brexit talks

Nick von Westenholz, NFU

Nick von Westenholz, NFU - Credit: Archant

The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has bolstered its London operations and set up a new Brexit department as it gears up for the forthcoming talks over Britain’s exit for the European Union (EU).

Olivia Seccombe, NFU.

Olivia Seccombe, NFU. - Credit: Archant

New faces and seasoned veterans are joining as the organisation readies itself to lobby the new government departments focused on EU-withdrawal talks.

The NFU has also re-shaped its London operations and announced new roles heading up the organisation’s external affairs function, which will include government affairs and parliamentary lobbying.

Nick von Westenholz has been appointed NFU director of EU exit and international Trade from his role as chief executive of the Crop Protection Association.

Olivia Seccombe, previously head of external affairs for Dairy Crest, becomes head of external affairs.

Mr von Westenholz, who previously worked at the NFU as the head of government affairs, said: “There are considerable challenges facing farming but agriculture has a good story to tell with strong public support. With the triggering of article 50 due in the next couple of months it is absolutely vital that farming’s voice continues to be heard to ensure the sector has a productive, competitive and resilient future outside the EU.”

Miss Seccombe has also worked in the offices of several MPs, including Theresa May.

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“This is a critically important time for farming with the future repatriation of agricultural policy to Westminster and it is absolutely vital that the NFU has broad cross-party as well as government support for the importance of the farming industry,” she said.

“In addition to Brexit there are still issues right now that are of immediate concern to farmers – whether it’s rural crime, the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) payments, Groceries Supply Code of Practice (GSCOP) or TB eradication - which continue to be a high priority for the NFU and where government support is vital.

Olivia’s team will include two external affairs managers, Rocky Lorusso and Fay Jones.

Mr Lorusso will join from manufacturers’ organisation EEF, where he was head of government affairs. Ms Jones currently works as European parliamentary and communications adviser for the UK farming unions in Brussels.