Race for NFU presidency hots up
NewsTuesday 19 November 2013
Welsh farmer Meurig Raymond will now face a challenge for the role of NFU president in the union’s leadership elections next year.
Gary Smith, the Essex farmer, will now also be running for the NFU presidency after accepting a nomination by his county branch on Monday 11th November.
Mr Smith is the first candidate to confirm that he will stand against Mr Raymond, who announced last year that he would run for president after being the union deputy for eight years.
The current NFU President Peter Kendall will be soon be stepping down from his role after eight years at the helm.
Speaking to Farmers Weekly, Mr Smith said: “I’m very proud to have been nominated by my county for the positions of NFU president and deputy president.
“In running for the presidency my first concern is to ensure there is more than one candidate for the post.
“Meurig Raymond is an old friend, but I suspect he would agree that ‘one candidate’ elections do not make for good democracy. Office holder elections should be times of keen policy discussion within the NFU and you don’t get that with North Korean-style single candidate ballots.
“I want to make sure people have choice. The presidency of the NFU is a very important role that should be decided by contest not through ‘Buggins’ turn’.
“If putting my hat in the ring encourages others to do the same then even better.”
The top three positions of NFU president, deputy president and vice-president, are all up for grabs in the new year, with the NFU leadership elections due to take place on 26th February 2014.
The contest is deemed to be an open race.
Mr Smith has also accepted a nomination to run for NFU deputy president.
He said that he is keen to give both posts his best shot, and claimed that his main immediate policy would simply be to make sure that the NFU asks DEFRA, at every turn, ‘what impact would this proposal have on UK farm production?’
When speaking about this policy, Mr Smith told Farmers Weekly that it is a question that is ‘not asked enough’ saying that it is partly the reason for how we have ‘sleepwalked into declining food security in this country over the past 30 years’.
And, whilst there are currently only two candidates for the leadership elections, others are also emerging.
Adam Quinney, the current NFU vice-president, is yet to confirm whether he will stand for re-election, or try to move up the pecking order by standing for president or deputy president.
He told Farmers Weekly that he would make his decision known after Christmas.
Another who is considering running is Dorset farmer, Robert Lasseter. He is canvassing views before choosing whether to run, and has also stated that he is yet to decide on which of the three positions he might contest.
“It would be a real privilege to seek a position to continue the work that Peter Kendall has done and have the opportunity to turn my vision into reality,” said Mr Lasseter.
Others considering running include, Wiltshire farmer Minette Batters and Yorkshire farmer Rosey Dunn, who have both confirmed they will stand for either the deputy or vice-president roles or both, and Lincolnshire farmer Jonathan Brant, who is running for vice-president.
All three are members of the NFU council, which is seen as a natural springboard for farmers who are seeking to become a union officeholder.
Source: Farmers Weekly