Pig sector boss set to become NFU's new director for East Anglia

NFU East Anglia Regional Director Zoe Davies

The NFU has appointed a new regional director for East Anglia - Dr Zoe Davies - Credit: NPA

A champion of the pig industry is set to become East Anglia's new regional director for the National Farmers' Union (NFU).

Dr Zoe Davies - who is currently chief executive of sector trade body the National Pig Association (NPA) - takes over the reins from Gary Ford in August.

She said she was excited at the opportunity to lead the NFU's work across a region where the total agricultural output is worth around £3.4bn.

“East Anglia is a fantastic region. There is a wide variety of forward-thinking farm businesses there and the NFU is well placed to work on their behalf,” she said.

“It’s not been an easy decision to leave the NPA but I am looking forward to the challenges my new role will bring.”

Dr Davies has a PhD is pig welfare from the University of Reading, where she studied the welfare implications of outdoor pig breeding systems.

She finished her studies in 1998 and went on to spend three years on farms. She was was trials manager for Stradbroke-based pig business BQP and ran a pig farm in Suffolk.

Most Read

She then joined the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) as senior scientific officer, leading its livestock science unit.

She became general manager of the NPA in 2008 and its first chief executive in 2014.

“East Anglia is hugely important for the pig sector so I will retain a lot of contact with pig farmers here," she said.

“This job is a totally new challenge, but it also feels like a home from home. I know the area, I know a lot of the people. They are great people and I want to do the best by them.”

Among the key challenges facing the region's industry is  availability of water to irrigate crops, labour shortages and adapting to the biggest changes in agricultural policy in more than 50 years as the old Common Agricultural Policy approach is overthrown, she said.

“Climate change is another major issue. It’s only a few years ago that we had the Beast from the East and there will be more weather extremes like that to deal with,” she said.

“This is an exciting move for me. There is so much good work going on here, in so many areas, but also so much to do.”

NFU regional board chairman Tony Bambridge said: “I would like to congratulate Zoe on her appointment.

“She brings with her a huge amount of knowledge, skills and expertise, plus an impressive track record of fighting for farmers during an extremely difficult time for the pig sector.

“I'm confident she will make a huge success of her new role.”

The NFU regional headquarters is in Newmarket.

Dr Davies is married to Adam, who works in international development, and they have an eight-year-old son, Alex.