Tributes have been paid to former NFU president Lord Plumb who has died at the age of 97

Lord Henry Plumb led the farming body throughout the 1970s and was the head of the organisation when Britain joined the European Union in 1973.

He died last week.

Current NFU President Minette Batters led tributes from the farming world and described Lord Plumb as ‘a truly remarkable man’.

“British farming has lost one of its greatest ever advocates and the NFU has lost its greatest ever president,” Mrs Batters said.

“There was no one more passionate about British farming than Lord Plumb and he remained a great champion for the sector throughout his life.

"He worked with a constant energy and determination to ensure the importance of farming was recognised by policy makers and continued to highlight the importance of the sector throughout his time in the House of Lords.

“As president of the NFU throughout the 1970s, he was at the head of the organisation when Britain joined the European Union.

"His success in guiding the NFU through a turbulent period came from his great ability to persuade through discussion and well-reasoned argument."

Lord Plumb was the only British president of the European Parliament serving between 1987 and 1989.

He was elected an MEP for the Cotswolds in 1979 and remained a member of the European Parliament until 1999.

Mrs Batters continued: “Following his nine-year presidency of the NFU, he became a member of the European Parliament and was later elected as its president.

“His impact on British farming during a career in agriculture and politics that spanned decades cannot be underestimated. His passion, dedication and sheer hard work on behalf of, and for, our industry was an inspiration to me and to many others.

“He was a truly remarkable man. He was committed, fearless and the most charming man you could meet.

“His loss will be deeply felt and our sympathies are with his family at this sad time.”

Lord Plumb was knighted in 1973, became Chancellor of Coventry University between 1995 and 2007 and retired from the House of Lords in 2017.

His family were from Cheshire and had farmed for several generations, with the young Henry taking over the running of his father’s largely dairy farm at Coleshill in Warwickshire after his death in 1952.

Science minister George Freeman tweeted Lord Plumb was a “great man”, adding it was “a pleasure and privilege to have worked with and got to know him in the 90s”.