ROBERT Venner, partner in charge of Sedgemoor Auction Centre, has been appointed chairman of the National Beef Association – the voice for British beef farmers.

Farmer's son Robert still keeps a handful of pedigree Aberdeen Angus cattle at Woodington Farm, Witheridge, Devon.

Following a degree in estate management at the Royal Agricultural College, his career took him to the auction ring, initially with Bruton Knowles in Gloucestershire, primarily at Gloucester Market.

In 1992 he joined Greenslade Hunt, the forerunner to Greenslade Taylor Hunt, to work in Taunton and Bridgwater markets.

He was closely involved with the design and move to Sedgemoor Auction Centre, Junction 24, North Petherton, in 2008 with Derek Mead, the site owner, who died in 2018.

“Derek was a great man and I shall always be indebted to his vision, business courage and bloody mindedness that ensured single-handedly that Sedgemoor was built to become the great market it now is,” said Robert.

As partner in charge of the market, he works closely with Derek’s daughter Katherine Hawke.

Robert added: "The cattle trade in recent times has been a dream, a far cry from the years of BSE and foot-and-mouth.

"I have always tried to be more than an auctioneer for the benefit of the farming community."

Robert helped set up 15 cull areas, which has seen a dramatic reduction of TB in cattle and an uptick in hedgehogs.

He recently completed a six-year term on the AHDB Beef and Lamb Board, where he focussed on listening to members' views and improving marketing.

Robert is looking forward to his role with the National Beef Association and is keen to have more farmers on the board.

He said: “Future possible trade deals will be a particular interest.

"Encouraging access for exports but not undermining home production with imports will be the objective.

"Liz Truss’s antics in the Southern hemisphere being a glaring example of how not to do it.”

Robert wants to find a pragmatic solution to farmers' concerns with respect to Red Tractor farm assurance scheme.

He said: “Possibly an unsolvable conundrum and one which is probably wiser left to someone else to sort.

"But the NBA should never shy away from difficult situations and 'do what is right, come what may' has always been a guiding principle I have found to be reliable.”

To join the NBA, contact Robert on 01278 410278 or executive secretary Neil Shand at head office on 01434 601005.