Tributes have been paid to former NFU President Sir David Naish who has died at the age of 78.
Born in Nottinghamshire, Sir David was President of the NFU between 1991 and 1998 and followed in the footsteps of his uncle, Lord Netherthorpe, who was NFU President from 1945 to 1960.
Sir David was also well respected internationally and was admired for his political skills, which he developed during his career in local politics as a councillor. During his time as NFU President he also became president of COPA, the pan-EU farmer representative body, giving the NFU an influential position in Brussels. He was also a relatively regular visitor to the United States and was highly respected by the US farming organisations and the US government.
He was appointed a Fellow of the Royal Agricultural Society in 1986 and held the office of Deputy Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire in 1991. He was knighted for services to agriculture in the 1994 Queen’s Birthday Honours.
NFU President Minette Batters said: “Our thoughts are with Sir David’s family at this time. Sir David was well known and highly respected both nationally and internationally for his knowledge, integrity and commitment to British farming.
“Those who worked with him during his time as NFU President have described him as a very kind and considerate giant in the farming industry, well respected, always credible, with a warm sense of humour who always had time to listen.
“In particular, British farmers owe a debt of gratitude to the leadership Sir David gave to the British farming industry in one of its most challenging eras of the BSE crisis. Sir David led from the front and played a crucial role in supporting British farmers while working with the highest levels in Government to introduce measures to restore public confidence, including the Over Thirty Months scheme. While the scheme wasn’t universally popular with farmers at the time, it played a crucial role in limiting the damage to the British beef industry at that time and is something the industry should be eternally grateful for.
“British farming was better for having him as NFU President and he will be sorely missed.”