UFU gears up for Brexit push

Wednesday, 7 June, 2017

Ulster Farmers’ Union chief executive, Wesley Aston, says the UFU is responding to the challenges of Brexit with additional resources to allow it to focus on securing the best possible deal from politicians.  “Change is inevitable and we have to focus on moving forward.  Our priority is our members, and ensuring we have the capacity to support them and lobby effectively on their behalf,” says Mr Aston.

After the EU referendum, when the scale of the Brexit challenge for agriculture became clear, the UFU reviewed its structures.  The conclusion was that while it already had a strong team, it needed to respond to the unprecedented challenge of Brexit.  “I have been through numerous CAP changes and reforms but those all pale into insignificance when we look to the task of delivering a workable Brexit outcome. That is why we have added two new senior management roles to the team,” says Mr Aston.

James McCluggage becomes policy manager and John Weir is the UFU's new internal services manager. They join membership director, Derek Lough and communications manager, Taryn McHenry on the senior management team.

“The last twelve months has given us a glimpse of the road ahead and we know Brexit will not be straight forward. We recognise those challenges, but we also want to capitalise on the opportunities Brexit will bring.  Our single aim is to ensure politicians here and at Westminster, prioritise agriculture in the negotiations and deliver on their Brexit promises,” says Mr Aston.


Photo caption: UFU management team. Back row left to right: Membership Director, Derek Lough and UFU Chief Executive, Wesley Aston. Front row left to right: Internal Services Manager, John Weir; Communications Manager, Taryn McHenry and Policy Manager, James McCluggage.

  • John Weir grew up in Ballyblack and spent his youth working on a local vegetable farm. Much of his career has been spent working in the food industry – from selling vegetables at Balmoral Market on the Boucher Road to working in hospitality in London. Prior to joining the UFU he worked at Mount Charles as a Division Manager. John has qualifications in Business, Finance and Computing and Systems Development. He lives in Donaghadee with his wife and three boys.


  • James McCluggage is the youngest son of dairy farming from Gleno, outside Larne. He has a keen interest in farming and agriculture and holds an undergraduate degree in Environmental Economics and Rural Resource Management and a Masters degree in Rural Development. Prior to taking up this role, James was the UFU/NFU group manager in Larne. He lives in Larne with his wife and two young children.