The Voluntary Initiative (VI) is seeking a new independent chairman to lead the organisation. The current chair, Wiltshire farmer Richard Butler, is to stand down later this year from the post he has held since 2011.

Mr Butler says: “It has been a great privilege to lead this organisation and to see first-hand the commitment of farmers, industry and other stakeholders to promote the responsible use of pesticides. Pesticide use is subject to considerable scrutiny from both the public and regulators. The VI plays a vital role in encouraging best practice. I would urge anyone who shares my passion for this industry to consider this fantastic opportunity.”

Among the VI chair’s duties are quarterly board meetings; engaging with Government ministers and industry regulators to promote the organisation’s aims; and communicating with stakeholders via the media as well as directly. The VI is supported by organisations from across the crop protection and agricultural industries, including manufacturers, farmers and agronomists. The position of chair is government-funded.  

Guy Smith, NFU vice president, comments: “At a time when pesticides seem relentlessly under attack, it is essential as an industry that we demonstrate the highest standards of professionalism in their use. The VI is a key vehicle to encourage and demonstrate this. I look forward to the appointment of a new chairman who can continue the tremendous leadership shown by Richard Butler.”

For more details, including how to apply, visit the VI website at