MINETTE Batters has become the first woman to hold national office in the 105- year history of the National Farmers’ Union.

Mrs Batters, who formerly wrote a column for this page of the Journal, farms 100 Continental-bred suckler cows on 300 acres at Barford Park Farm, near Downton, on the Longford Estate, with males finished as bull beef, some sold as stores and the others finished and sold to local butchers.

She fought off tough competition to be elected deputy president of the NFU last week after impressing the farming community with her contributions in NFU council sessions over the years. She is a former Wiltshire NFU county chairman.

Former deputy president Meurig Raymond is now president and Essex farmer Guy Smith vice-president.

Mrs Batters, pictured, is also co-founder of Ladies in Beef and her farming enterprise includes a catering business, horse livery and an events venue in a converted 17th century barn.

Speaking to the Journal after her election she said: “It is a massive honour. I will give 100 per cent to the job in order to repay the confidence shown in me.”

Mrs Batters, grew up on a farm owned by the same landlord.

She told BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour her father had originally discouraged her from going into farming because it would be difficult for her to find a tenancy.

So as a Cordon Bleu-trained chef, she ran her own freelance catering business for 20 years before going into farming.

She said: “I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing to have an alternative career.”

In her election address Mrs Batters said farming required a strategic plan up to 2020 and the Government needed to cut back on red tape. Her first priority, and that of the NFU, she said, should be Britain’s flood defences.

She also said it was important that the NFU broaden its horizons and get its message across to more people.

And she stressed the importance of the family farm. She said: “Family farms are the very DNA of rural Britain.

They are the backbone of the rural economy.

“I will do my absolute best to deliver for our farmer members.”