Queen’s Honours: Who in farming made this year’s list?

Several champions of British agriculture and rural communities have been recognised in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Defra’s chief scientific advisor Prof. Ian Boyd received a Knighthood, while others, such as Welsh dairy farmer Abi Reader and veteran shearing coach Afred Evans received MBEs.

As Defra’s chief scientific advisor, Sir. Ian has advised Ministers and the department on issues ranging from air quality, biosecurity, and disease since he was appointed in 2012.

Prof. Sir. Ian Boyd said he was “delighted” to have been recognised in such a way.

“Throughout my life, I have always tried to do those things I found interesting and that might make a difference and I am very proud of what we have been able to achieve,” he said.

Sir. Ian was instrumental in returning a safe environment in Salisbury through his chairmanship of the Decontamination Science Advisory Group as a key response to the chemical attack in 2018. He has also led on the UK’s strategy for eradicating bovine tuberculosis.

Defra permanent secretary Tamara Finkelstein said: “I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to Ian on this well-deserved honour, and thank him for his inspiring work for the department over the past seven years.

Ian has been instrumental in a wide range of pioneering work during this time, from tackling TB to cleaning up our seas, and it is great to see his efforts being recognised in this way.

Sir. Ian has also worked as the chief scientist for a US Navy study examining the behavioural responses of whales to military sonar and he was a co-developer of environmental risk management procedures used by the Royal Navy.

He served on two enquiries into the future of Scottish Fisheries and the implications of Common Fisheries Policy reform for the Scottish Fishing industry and was a member of an international task force which recommended a global 50% reduction in the level of fishing for some of the planet’s most abundant fish species.

Other agriculture honours

But it wasn’t just the chief scientist recognised this year. Cows on Tour founder Abi Reader was awarded an MBE for services to farming.

The Vale of Glamorgan dairy farmer has made it her mission to educate the public about farming and where their food comes from.

The 37-year-old farming champion also sits on the National Farmers’ Union’s national dairy board and is a dairy ambassador for AHDB.

Welsh shearing stalwart Alfred Evans from Llanwrtyd Wells, Powys was awarded an MBE for services to farming heritage.

Over the years, the 76-year-old has taught hundreds of young farmers the art of sheep shearing and has also run courses on laying hedges.

Dr. Geoff Thompson from Newtownabbey, Co. Antrim, was awarded a BEM for services to the Rural Youth in Northern Ireland.

Dr. Thompson is a past board member for Rural Youth Europe and sat on the European Youth Forum lobbying for young people from rural areas and a was also a vice president Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster.

East Sussex man Jeremy Leggett, trustee and vice-chairman of Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE), was awarded an MBE for services to rural communities and young people.

The organisation is the national body for 38 charitable local development agencies that work to serve rural communities.

Former Nuffield Scholars John Martin from Co. Down, Northern Ireland and Barbara Bray, director of the Oxford Farming Conference, also made the 2019 Honours List, awarded a BEM and an MBE respectively.