New Rural Policy, Agriculture and Agri-food appointments at RAU

07 Dec 2018

Two new senior academic positions in rural policy and food security have been announced at the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) as part of its strategy to provide thought leadership for the sector post-Brexit.

Professor Tom MacMillan has been appointed Elizabeth Creak Chair in Rural Policy and Strategy, joining from the Soil Association where he is currently Director of Innovation. His recent work includes establishing the Innovative Farmers network and advising the RSA Food, Farming & Countryside Commission.

Photo of Prof Tom MacMillian

Louise Manning will join as Professor of Agri-food and Supply Chain Security. Louise returns to the RAU after three years at Harper Adams University where she is currently Reader in Food Policy and Management. She has worked for over 30 years in a range of academic and industry roles. Her expertise is in food integrity, including food safety and quality, food crime, governance, social and corporate responsibility.

Photo of Prof Louise Manning

Prof MacMillan said: "When research and policy have often looked off-farm for answers to the industry’s challenges, the RAU has persisted in nurturing the know-how, nous and skills for farmers and rural communities to work out home-grown solutions. In the face of today’s stark uncertainties, this confidence in the sector’s enterprise and initiative looks wiser than ever. It means our University is well placed to provide practical leadership on policy issues, to develop skills the industry needs to respond and to champion farmer-led innovation.”

Prof Manning said: “I’m excited to be working to develop and deepen understanding of the integrity of our food and its supply chain as these issues come into sharp focus over the coming years, in both the curriculum here at RAU and in the policy space.”

Prof MacMillan takes up his post in February and Prof Manning in January 2019.

Professor Joanna Price, Vice-Chancellor of the RAU said: “We are extremely grateful to the Elizabeth Creak Charitable Trust for their continued support in helping the RAU achieve its strategic vision. As Creak Chair, Prof MacMillan is at the heart of our mission to inform national and international policy relating to the land-based sector, the environment and the food supply chain. Prof Manning’s appointment will enable us to provide academic leadership in food security, a critically important area for the sector.  Louise’s involvement in a number of global research collaborations will also ensure that we develop our international reputation in this field.”

The Rt Hon Michael Jack Chair of the RAU’s Governing Council said: “These two excellent appointments underpin the Governing Council’s commitment to support the further strengthening of our academic capability, providing our students with the knowledge and experience they need to prosper in the world of 21st century food and agriculture.”

Tom and Louise are being joined by other new academic appointments that have been made as part of the RAU’s £2.5 million initiative to help meet the future needs of the land management and agri-food sectors. £1.1m of this funding came through the former Higher Education Funding Council’s (now Office for Students) Catalyst programme.  

Dr Felicity Crotty, Lecturer in Soil Science, was previously senior soil scientist at the Allerton Project and began work in October.  Dr Jessica Stokes, Lecturer in Farm Animal Welfare Science and Policy joined in November from the University of Bristol where she was a Senior Research Associate in Farm Animal Welfare. Dr Laurence Smith, Lecturer in Agroecology, currently a Senior Researcher at The Organic Research Centre, Newbury will join in the New Year, as will Tony Lewis who will be working across Food Policy and degree apprenticeships. Tony is currently Head of Policy at the Chartered Institute of Environmental Heath.