Currently chief executive of the Crop Protection Association, Westenholz will join the union at its director of EU Exit and International Trade to “strengthen and extend its political reach”.
His role will be to ensure the NFU has a co-ordinated and constant presence in its Brexit conversations with government in the crucial months ahead, as the Prime Minister Theresa May formulates the UK’s exit plan.
NFU director general Terry Jones said the appointment offered an opportunity to make the most of Britain’s decision to quit the EU. “We have made no secret of our determination to seize the opportunities offered by the forthcoming Brexit deals to ensure that British farming has a profitable and productive future and is able to seize and capitalise on new opportunities,” said Jones.
Food and drink sector worth £108bn
“Farming and food production is politically and strategically important for the UK; farming provides the raw ingredients for the UK’s food and drink sector worth £108bn, supporting 3.9M jobs for people nation-wide as well as delivering high quality, traceable food for a growing population.”
It was essential that food and farming was at “the front and centre of any talks about the UK’s relationship with Europe and the rest of the world”, he added. “I am confident the building blocks being put in place now will ensure the NFU is able to work with the two new government departments, Exiting the EU and International Trade.”
Westenholz said: “I’m delighted to be taking up this new post at the NFU at such a critical time for UK agriculture. While Brexit presents clear challenges to UK farming in the coming years, if we get it right it offers the prospect of an exciting future, both to the benefit of domestic food production and our precious natural environment.
‘Getting the best out of Brexit’
“The NFU has shown a strong intent to be on the front foot in getting the best out of Brexit for British farmers and I’m immensely excited about stepping up to that task on behalf of the NFU’s members.”
As part of the NFU’s preparation for Brexit the union now recruiting a new head of external affairs and two new external affairs managers to strengthen its London presence.
Jones said: “Recruitment for these posts has already started and I look forward to welcoming the new members of this team to the NFU as we work together to create a positive, profitable and productive future for British farming.”
Don’t miss our exclusive video interview with environment secretary Andrea Leadsom, in which she promised the prime minister “intends to protect” right of up to 100,000 non-UK EU nationals working in the food sector to remain after Brexit.
Meanwhile, watch FoodManufacture.co.uk’s exclusive video with Westenholz, filmed at the Oxford Farming Conference in January.
For the latest jobs in food and drink manufacturing, visit FoodManJobs.
- This video was filmed by Alice Foster.
- NFU director of EU exit and international trade: appointed October 2016
- Crop Protection Association chief executive: appointed January 2013
- NFU head of government affairs: May 2011 – January 2013
- NFU government affairs adviser: June 2009 – May 2011
- British Wheatfields Ltd md: March 2006 – June 2009