John Powell – Deputy Leader | Head of Agriculture Sectors Team/ Farming Sectors and Policy | Food, Farming Sectors and Trade I Agri-food Chain Directorate | Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
John is Head of the Agriculture Sectors Team in Defra, a post he has held since March 2020. He joined MAFF in 1983 and until 1999 worked in various advisory and policy leadership roles. From 1999- 2017 he worked as an advisor to over 15 EU candidate countries on the establishment of EU agricultural policies and institutions. He re-joined DEFRA in 2017, and has worked on future farming policy, EU Exit, and the Environmental Land Management schemes.
Professor David Hughes – Emeritus Professor of Food Marketing at Imperial College London
Dr. David Hughes is Emeritus Professor of Food Marketing at Imperial College London, and Visiting Professor at the Royal Agricultural University, U.K. He is a much sought-after speaker at international conferences and seminars on global food industry issues, particularly consumer and retail trends. David has lived and worked in Europe, North America, the Caribbean, Africa and South East Asia and has extensive experience as an international advisory board member with food companies and financial service organizations on three continents. For 20 years, he was a Non-Executive Director of Berry Gardens Ltd – a U.K. farmer-owned berry fruit business (£230 million turnover in 2015). With his American business partner, David established, grew and sold a branded fresh produce business which served supermarkets in the USA. Around the globe, he works with food and beverage supply chain companies – including farm input, growers, manufacturers and ingredient companies, retailers and food service firms – to assist them in management training, strategy and Board level decision-making. David’s views are frequently sought by TV, radio and the printed press.
Amy Jackson – Managing Director Oxtale
Amy has over 25 years’ experience in communications and PR, in consultancies and in-house, working for a huge range of organisations from charities to blue chip businesses, international NGOs and SMEs. But she also has hands-on skills in farming and the land-based industries, and that’s where her heart lies. Amy’s particularly passionate about animal welfare and finicky about facts! She regularly speaks about issues and crisis management, advocating a ‘bottom up’ approach ensuring communications are underpinned by the right actions, and completed a PhD examining public preference for dairy farming in 2022, from the University of Nottingham vet school.
Paul Harris – Founder & Chief Executive of REAL Success
A thought leader, inspirational keynote speaker and people management coach for agribusiness. His work with farmers on maximising personal and team performance to drive success is widely recognised.
Isaac Huerta – Technical Services Director, PIC Europe
Isaac is originally from Manresa in Catalonia and received his DVM degree from the University of Zaragoza. Following this he finished his Masters in Swine Management & Health in 2008. His career started at NUTRECO’s research centre in Holland and then moved to Mexico to lead a field trial. In 2010 he joined Magapor’s team as head of Technical Services for North America, where he helped to implement Post Cervical Artificial Insemination in several farms across USA and Canada. He also ran several trials in porcine AI studs and published those trials in peer reviewed magazine and at international conferences. In 2013 he moved back to Spain and joined Elanco as the Technical leader for the North East of Spain, where he ran antibiotic efficacy trials and evaluated lung lesions in abattoirs. Isaac then joined PIC in 2015 as Technical Services Manager for Southern Europe where he supported many of the large integrated Spanish operators as they grew their systems. In June 2020 became Technical Services Director for PIC Europe.
Flavian Oberio – Vice Chair, Young NPA
Flavian Obiero is a Hampshire-based Pig Farmer and Vice-chair of the Young NPA. He is a strong advocate for getting and keeping young people in the industry. Has appeared on radio and television, including: BBC Radio 4, the Black Lives Living podcast, and the Peter Crouch: Save Our Summer TV show.
Liam Byrne – Marketing Director, AHDB
With a background in both proposition and product development Liam bridges the worlds of customer and strategy. He has a passion and expertise in making ideas real, with a strong background in building customer experience and driving advocacy; most recently analysing AHDB’s cross sector marketing campaigns to identify the key learnings to inform future impact.
Prior to AHDB Liam was Head of Marketing at Global contract catering provider, Compass Group, where he was responsible for developing and launching new products, brands and services. Previous to that, Liam was Head of Sales, working for Whitbread.
Outside of AHDB, Liam lives in Warwickshire with his family and 3 chickens and has recently started playing tennis again (badly!).
Gemma Thwaites – President, Pig Vetinary Society
I qualified from Liverpool University in 2002, developing an interest in the pig industry shortly afterwards while working in mixed practice in Yorkshire. I chose to specialise fully in pigs in 2007, joining Garth Partnership and subsequently becoming a partner in the business.
I am an active member of the Pig Veterinary Society and joined the officers team in 2020, I am currently Vice President. I am also on the NPA Pig Industry Group as the veterinary representative.
Within our business we work with a significant sector of the United Kingdom pig industry and as such have access to a wide variety of production types but also work throughout the entire supply chain. I have a particular interest in improving health and performance by disease eradication or by control via coordinated pig movements.
Stewart Houston – Member, Defra Pig Core Group
Stewart Houston CBE, has been a non-executive member of the Animal Health and Welfare Board for England (AHWBE) since 2011. He specialisms are welfare, Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR), the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) and the EU Animal Health Law.
He was a leading figure for many years at The National Pig Association (NPA) and also a former BPEX (now AHDB Pigs) chair (2003 to 2015).
Stewart is a current member of the Assured Food Standards board.
Christian Fink Hansen – Director, Danish Pig Research Centre
Christian Fink Hansen, PhD in Animal Science, is the director of the Danish Pig Research Centre (DPRC) at Danish Agriculture and Food Council. Before joining the Danish Pig Research Centre, Christian was professor in pig production and head of the MSc Animals Science education at the University of Copenhagen and held prior appointments at Murdoch University, Australia and at the National committee for pig production. His personal research has mainly focused on nutrition and development of production strategies to enhance survival, animal welfare and health of pigs. Major research interests include alternatives to antimicrobials in pig diets, role of nutrition in modifying the gastrointestinal microbiota, feedstuff evaluation, and controlling enteric diseases in pig.
Rupert Claxton – Strategy Consultant, Gira
Rupert has worked as a strategy consultant in the food sector since joining Gira in 2003, with a high level of specialisation in global meat markets. He has a strong understanding of the evolving nature of international meat demand and the supply systems that provide it, as well as their internal organisation.
For the last 17 years Rupert has produced the Asian sector of the annual Gira Meat Club report, and for the last 8 managed the Gira Asian Meat Club. He also helped produce Gira’s 2018 Long Term Global Meat report. In the last year he has been actively researching developments in the global pork supply chain as ASF spreads through key markets and the resultant issues for producers and traders.
Rupert’s other work recently has included; ongoing research on the impact of both Covid-19 and ASF, 2040 outlook on the Chinese pork market, African research on beef, poultry and pork, European studies on the beef & sheepmeat industries, processed meat production, meat in retail and global salmon production and trade.
Rupert’s personal background in UK farming affords him a balanced outlook on the increasingly globalised meat industry, between the commercial drivers that control the processing industry and the complex cultural heritage that farming has evolved from.
Dominic Charman – Independnt Pig Consultant, Charman Ag
Independent Pig consultant working across the supply chain with producers, abattoirs, retailers, tech companies and government agencies. 20 years’ experience working in the pig industry.
Eduardo Velezquez – Swine National Veterinary Services Manager, Ceva
Eduardo graduated from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria , where he then worked in small animal practice. He moved to the UK in 2009 and worked for the Food Standards Agency in several roles including an official veterinarian and auditor. After this he worked as a swine practitioner in an intensive clinical role. He joined Ceva in 2017 as the Swine Veterinary Service Manager. Eduardo provides technical support for both commercial and autogenous vaccines, mostly related to respiratory and enteric health..
Fred Allen – National Pig Awards Winner – Young Pig Farmer of the Year
Fred is a Director at Allen Farms (Coddington) Ltd in Nottinghamshire, which includes an indoor farrow-to-finish pig unit.
In recent years, the unit has increased its sow herd from 550 to 850 sows, alongside significant investment in new weaner and farrow housing.
Piglets weaned per sow has increased from 25.2/year to 28.8/year, with the target of reaching 30/year by the end of 2023.
Antibiotic usage is now in the lowest 10 percentile in the UK and soya usage has been halved and replaced with beans grown on the farm. The aim is for the farm to be net-zero by 2027.
Max Campbell – National Pig Awards Winner – Trainee of the Year
Max is assistant manager of Bunkers Hill Pigs, in Norfolk, having joined as a trainee stockman in June 2019.
He has overseen a herd move, repopulation and conversion from four- to five-weak weaning – and production figures have dramatically improved since.
He has worked on several other pig farms and undertaken various strands formal training – and it all adds up to another rising industry star.
Emma Claxton – National Pig Awards Highly Commended – Trainee of the Year
Emma, who co-owns a 1,200-sow outdoor breeding unit with husband Matt, producing weaners for BQP, was an exceptional finalist.
She learned the skills required to perform as a stockperson within six months of owning the unit. She has taken part in AHDB’s pig handling course and stockperson development scheme, with immediate results and, also trained as the unit’s health and safety representative.
A future industry star for sure.