WILTSHIRE beef farmer Minette Batters has become the first woman to be elected President of the National Farmers Union (NFU) of England and Wales in its 110 year history.

The election took place yesterday after the AGM of the NFU Council, a representative body made up of its elected members, following the annual NFU Conference.

Ms Batters runs a diversified, mixed farming business that includes a herd of pedigree Hereford cattle running alongside 100 Simmental cross beef cows, horse livery, a wedding and corporate events venue, and a catering business specialising in home-grown produce. Mrs Batters co-founded the campaigning initiatives "Ladies in Beef" and the "Great British Beef Week".

Fifty-year-old Ms Batters has been elected for a two-year term and said: "At the heart of the NFU is its members and I would like the organisation to aim even higher on their behalf. British farming is in the spotlight like never before and this is a great opportunity to reposition the sector in the eyes of the nation.

"Together as a new officeholder team, we will hit the ground running and I look forward to sharing our new vision for farming at the earliest opportunity."

Guy Smith was elected Deputy President, while Stuart Roberts is the new Vice President.

* Meanwhile, lamb from the UK will soon be heading to Saudi Arabia in a deal which could be worth £25m over the next 5 years.

Saudi Arabian authorities have this week lifted the ban on sheep-meat from the UK, following a detailed process to gain access to this new and lucrative market.

Exports of lamb could begin as early as next month once export certification is finalised and released.

Market round-up

Lawrie & Symington Ltd sold 426 store heifers in Lanark on Tuesday to a top of 248p per kg and an average of 217.4p (+5.1p on the fortnight), while 543 store, beef-bred bullocks peaked at 273p and levelled at 228.9p (+6p). Forty-five store, dairy-bred bullocks sold to 199.4p and averaged 159.5p (+9.9p).

Harrison & Hetherington Ltd sold 61 store heifers in Lockerbie on Tuesday to a top of 269.3p and an average of 217p (+0.6p on the fortnight), while 59 store bullocks peaked at 287.4p and levelled at 237.5p (+5.4p).

Wallets Marts sold 1,280 prime hoggs in Castle Douglas on Tuesday to a top of £116 per head and 291.7p per kg to average £79.86 and 205.2p (+2.1p on the week).

The firm also sold 113 heavy cast ewes to a top of £106 for Texels and an average of £72.44, while 214 light/export-type ewes peaked at £70.50 for Blackfaces and levelled at £44.36.