Rebecca Wells


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NAME Rebecca Wells JOB Assistant European Policy Adviser COMPANY British Agriculture Bureau, Brussels AGE 26 SALARY* TBC *industry average

 What do you do day-to-day in your job?

I represent the interests and views of UK farmers in Brussels. A huge amount of policy that impacts on agriculture comes from Brussels and it is our job to get the best possible deal for our members at the European level.  We lobby on behalf of over 60,000 farmers covering more than 75% of UK farmland. 

Our work focuses on the three main European Institutions: the European Commission, who are the civil servants; the European Parliament, which is made up of MEPs from all of the member states; and the European Council which is the platform for Ministers from all the member states to meet and debate policy.

I have a wide portfolio covering European policy on the pig and poultry sectors, environment, climate change, food labelling, farm assurance and organic farming.  A typical day includes talking to our policy experts back in the UK to brief them on the latest policy gossip from Brussels, and to find out what issues are getting our members hot and bothered. 

Farmers always want to know what is happening in other EU countries and whether they are better or worse off than their continental neighbours, so I spend a lot of time talking to the farming unions from across the EU. 

I work closely with the other farming organisations in order to form a strong voice to convince the policy makers in Brussels of farmer’s views.  When I work with Copa, the European umbrella group for farming organisations, I become more of a ‘heavy weight lobbyist’, as they represent 13 million farmers from all across the EU. 

Most days will see visitors to our Brussels office from the UK, office holders and members. I help to arrange their trips and set-up meetings with influential decision makers.  When we are campaigning on a particular issue it helps for MEPs and Commission officials to meet with our farmers to better understand the practicalities and challenges of farming in ‘real life’. 

What other jobs have you had?

My previous role was at the National Farmers Union, as the Assistant Environment Policy Advisor, where I managed a joint industry initiative – the Tried & Tested Nutrient Management Plan. 

What qualifications do you have?

I have a BA honours degree in Geography and a masters in Sustainable Development – Environmental Change (MSc). 

What other jobs or career path did you consider?

Graduating in 2010, near the beginning of the financial crisis, meant I had to consider almost any job.  I spent about 6 months office temping and fruit picking before finding the role at the NFU. 

What do you like most about your job, and what’s not so great?

The best part of my job is that I work to make things better for farmers in the UK.  With increasingly extreme weather and never ending policy reforms our industry needs all the help it can get. 

Compared to most of my friends, I have a huge amount of responsibility, my role may seem like an office job, but I am lucky enough to work on issues that really interest me. 

The only down side is missing home, friends and family.  Although, being in the capital for chocolate and beer means they have an incentive to visit me! 

What’s your long term ambition?

Our positions in Brussels are only medium term, so I’ll be coming home in a few years time.  I hope to still be working in agricultural policy, but I have always wanted to farm.  I hope to have at least a small flock of my own one day. 

What one piece of advice would you give people trying to get into agriculture?

I think not being from a farming family has actually helped my career so far. I am more objective and feel less biased towards any particular sector, region or farming system. 

My advice would be to focus on the skills you do have, do your research and ask lots of questions.  Good farmers are passionate about what they do and love telling people about their work – take every opportunity to learn from them.

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