Rare Breeds Survival Trust has welcomed two high profile, experienced champions of rare breeds to help lead the charity as it builds on its success in supporting the survival of the UK’s native breeds of livestock and equines. The newly appointed RBST President is Shadow Spokesperson for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in the House of Lords Baroness Sue Hayman, and the newly elected RBST Chairman is Lake District farmer John Atkinson.

Baroness Sue Hayman of Ullock has been appointed President of RBST following the end of farmer and TV personality Jimmy Doherty’s term. A Labour Life Peer in the House of Lords, Baroness Hayman served as Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs from 2017 to 2019. Baroness Hayman and her family run a smallholding in West Cumbria, where they use native breed Luing cattle for Conservation Grazing, rear sheep, and keep rare breed Buff Orpington chickens.

Baroness Hayman says: “Through my roles in Parliament and Defra I have developed a strong interest in the role of native breeds within sustainable food production, animal welfare and good farming practices. I am keen to help raise RBST’s profile in Parliament, the charity has an important mission which is quite different from other farming groups and it is really important that Government understands what RBST does, its relevance to the wider farming world and why native and rare breeds are so important to the future of farming and of our countryside. As RBST President I look forward to furthering this important cause.”

John Atkinson has been elected as Chairman of RBST’s Board of Trustees, following the end of Gail Sprake’s eight year term as RBST Chairman. John is the sixth generation farming at Nibthwaite Farm in Cumbria, also farming another 400 acres belonging to trusts and private landowners. His rare and native livestock includes Luing and Whitebred Shorthorn cows as well as Teeswater, Castlemilk Moorit, Hebridean, Boreray and Blue Faced Leicester sheep. John is passionate about carving out premium markets for high quality native breed produce, and incorporating native breeds into farm diversifications.

John Atkinson says: “I am delighted to become RBST Chairman and I’m looking forward to working with Trustees and staff, as well as the dedicated support group volunteers throughout the UK, to ensure the Trust’s activity is making the greatest positive impact for the future of our wonderful rare and native breeds of livestock and equines.

“With growing consumer interest in provenance of food and an increasing focus on the environmental impacts of farming and land management, alongside the move from CAP to payment based on public goods, we have a golden opportunity to show why native breeds can and should play a major role in a sustainable future for food, farming and the environment. For a long time agriculture has focused squarely on production, but the current shift towards greater consideration of the cost of production is shining a light on the commercial attraction of native livestock breeds. As RBST Chairman I’m looking forward to showcasing why our native breeds of livestock and equines matter, and how we can work for their survival long into the future.”


            RBST President Baroness Sue Hayman                             RBST Chairman John Atkinson