Agricultural expert 'over the moon' with MBE

Sarah-Jane Mukherjee from Royston has been awarded an MBE for services to agriculture

Sarah-Jane Mukherjee from Royston has been awarded an MBE for services to agriculture - Credit: IEMA

A Royston agricultural expert said she was "over the moon" to be awarded an MBE for services to British agriculture and farmer wellbeing.

Sarah-Jane Mukherjee started her career as an environmental journalist, notching up 20 years' experience reporting on a range of issues - including becoming BBC environment correspondent in 1994 and appearing on Farming Today and Countryfile.

In 2005, she was granted a rare opportunity to interview the Prince of Wales on environmental issues, and has been a regular contributor on Radio 4's Today Programme.

In 2016 she was appointed by DEFRA - the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs - to join the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads Authority, and in 2017 was appointed chief executive of the Crop Protection Association.

After a role as director of environment for Water UK, Sarah took on a new position last year as chief executive of the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment.

Speaking about her MBE, Sarah told the Crow: "It's just a fantastic honour. What makes me most overwhelmed is the fact that someone else has put me forward and spent time and effort putting the information together.

"It's a sign of recognition from the people that you work with which is really special."

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She added that the nomination was a complete shock, and when it came into her email inbox she thought she was being asked to nominate someone else, saying "when I saw it was me I was amazed".

"I have been lucky in that I've had two or three careers," Sarah said. "I know people always say this but it's the people you work with that are the highlight. That's the thing you take away with you."

Sarah developed her career from journalism into agriculture by chance, after leading coverage into the BSE - mad cow disease - outbreak.

She said: "I got talking to farmers and I thought 'gosh there's a lot of stories here'.

"I developed a specialism in rural affairs. I don't have a background in farming as I was brought up in social housing in Essex.

"It's never dull - I'm in a job that's always interesting."

For the next stage of her career, Sarah is looking ahead to climate talks at the end of the year, and is working to improve links between sustainability and agriculture.