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Kendal NFU welcomes its first female chair

Maggie Kelly

[T]he National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has voted in its first ever female President in Minette Batters and not to be outdone, the Kendal branch of the organisation has followed suit and voted in Maggie Kelly as its first ever female branch chairperson.

Maggie farms with her husband David and children Harriet, 22, and John, 17, at Netherhall Farm near to Kirby Lonsdale in Cumbria – a farm Maggie has lived at for the past 15 years. The family breed pedigree Herefords and Limousin cattle over four farms they privately own – totalling 900 acres.

The Kelly family’s Hereford bulls mainly go to dairy farmers and the Limousin cattle are sold as breeding stock and stores at Kirkby Stephen Auction Mart with some of the heifers being kept.

Maggie said: “We currently have 540 cattle on the farm but after calving I estimate we’ll have approximately 700 cattle by May. Herefords are perfect for our farming system. They are placid, easy calving and have a shorter gestation period.”

As part of the Hereford breeding program at Netherhall, embryos are imported from Australia and America. In fact when Maggie was elected as NFU Kendal’s new chairperson, Maggie and David had just returned from a trip to Australia where they have been buying embryos and a Hereford bull called Wirruna Lennon so that the business can start importing its own semen.

When asked what she thought could affect farming in south Cumbria during her tenure in office, Maggie said: “The two major issues the industry faces are getting on top of the TB outbreaks in Shap and of course the uncertainty which surrounds Brexit. We all need to be banging the buy British food drum a lot louder. We must help the general public understand how the food produced in this country is second to none and why our animal welfare is the best.”

Once a dairy farmer herself, Maggie was a Wilson before marriage and is the eighth generation of her family to farm.

The family host many farmer discussion groups for tours round the farm and are keen to accommodate more. If you are part of a discussion group and would like an informative tour, as well as a famed barbecue, contact Maggie on 015242 73927.

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