Two further leadership appointments have been made to the newly-formed UK-wide Ruminant Health and Welfare Group (RHWG): Caroline Slay in the role of secretary general, and Gwyn Jones as the new vice chair.
They join Berwickshire farmer and qualified vet Nigel Miller, who was appointed chair on June 1.
Mr Miller said the double appointment signifies a strengthening of the leadership team and recognition of the breadth and urgency of challenges facing UK cattle and sheep sectors.
Ms Slay, from Northamptonshire, has worked in the UK agricultural industry her whole career, mainly in marketing communications and knowledge exchange roles. She also farms in partnership with her husband. She will be central to relationship-building both across the wide-ranging group of stakeholders, and across the UK.
Ms Slay said: “An important determinant of the group’s success is likely to be relationships – whether at national level between government animal health teams, or at farm level, for example in health planning between the farmer and vet.
“I’m planning to use my practical background and communications experience to help to build these enduring relationships around common goals, and to deliver further progress on the challenges the sectors face.”
Mr Jones, originally from Snowdonia, was a dairy farmer in West Sussex for over 30 years. He now sits on Defra’s Animal Health and Welfare Board for England as well as committees for a number of EU and UK farming and animal welfare organisations.
He said: “We face unprecedented challenges but also opportunities – building new markets and displacing imports in a post-pandemic world, while meeting a broad raft of welfare, productivity, sustainability and reputational challenges.
“I believe this approach working with private sector partners and engaging positively with both government and the supply-chain as a UK ruminant group can deliver huge benefits for all. I am therefore delighted to have been given this opportunity – ruminant health and welfare are passions of mine and as a Welshman, I am particularly keen to see the four nations in the UK benefit from much-needed collaboration.”
Mr Miller, speaking on behalf of the recruitment panel which also included the Chief Veterinary Officer for UK, the CEO of the National Sheep Association and the chief technical officer for AHDB, said the focus had been on creating a leadership team with skills and abilities suited to the task ahead.
“The right team is critical if we are to pick up the reins from two very successful organisations in CHAWG and SHAWG, but also broaden our remit,” he said.
“Endemic diseases and reputational challenges cost the UK cattle and sheep sectors at least £500 million per year, and respect neither country borders nor political boundaries.”
Mr Miller added: “The RHWG will work independently to bring the industry and governments together to work collaboratively to speed up the fight against endemic disease in ruminants. I am committed to make this work for both sheep and cattle producers and excited to be part of a group that is focused on positive change.”