An experienced farming adviser has landed a new industry role created to champion East Anglian farming and drive the policy work of the National Farmers' Union (NFU).
Charles Hesketh begins work as the NFU's regional policy manager at a time of "unprecedented change, challenge and opportunity".
Previously the county adviser for NFU Suffolk, he said he is looking forward to meeting union members across the region and working to ensure their views are represented as policies are developed.
“I have really enjoyed my three years as county adviser and I’m now excited to be moving into this new strategic role, championing our fantastic industry across East Anglia and supporting colleagues and members with the wide range of policy issues on the horizon," he said.
“Farmers are facing some major immediate challenges, including the soaring cost of fuel and fertiliser, labour shortages and adapting to the biggest change in agricultural policy in more than 50 years.
“We also mustn’t lose sight of longer-term challenges and opportunities, such as helping businesses progress towards the NFU’s ambitious goal of reaching 'net zero' greenhouse gas emissions for agriculture by 2040.”
Mr Hesketh grew up in rural Yorkshire near Harrogate. He first "fell in love with farming" at 15, when he began working on a nearby family friend’s organic farm during weekends and holidays.
After completing a business and economics degree at the University of Liverpool, he joined the MDS (Management Development Services) fresh produce graduate student scheme.
This included placements as technical management for a tomato nursery and planning the import of various vegetables to supply the ready meal market.
Before joining the NFU, he worked in the seed potato industry for five years, coordinating planting, allocations and forward planning in East Anglia and further afield.
NFU East Anglia's regional board chairman Tony Bambridge, who is managing director of B&C Farming at Marsham, said: “The NFU has created this new role at a time when a strong voice for farming has never been more important.
"It will be of real benefit to members across the region."
Mr Hesketh will be based at the NFU's regional office in Newmarket. The union's new county adviser for Suffolk is expected to be announced shortly.