A new pressure group has officially announced that it aims to change the campaigning stance of the NFU by ousting the current leadership.

News of the announcement was broken by Farmers Weekly last week (News, 9 December).

Better NFU has claimed that the union is pursuing the wrong agenda with government and refuses to stand up to supermarket dominance.

It has suggested that the union needs to become more like NFU Scotland, which it believes is more vocal than the NFU without being overly militant.

The Better NFU organisation is being co-chaired by NFU council member Derek Mead and Farmers For Action chairman David Handley.

Financial backing for the group, to the tune of about 50,000, is being jointly provided by Mr Mead and millionaire environmentalist Zac Goldsmith.

The group has indicated that it intends to push its agenda by fielding candidates for the union’s presidential elections in February 2006.

Presidentail race

Mr Handley has already confirmed that he is prepared to stand for the position of president, if his name is put forward by members.

If this happens, Mr Handley will definitely find himself up against the current president Tim Bennett and possibly the current deputy-president Peter Kendall.

Although Mr Kendall has not indicated he will stand, a number of Council members are known to want him to join the presidential race.

“For the past five to 10 years we have seen incomes in our industry decline and continually the NFU has stood back and done very little.

“I think the time has come that something drastic has to be done,” said Mr Handley.

Mr Mead added: “Time after time, the current leadership of the NFU misses out on vital opportunities to fight for a better deal for farmers.”

isabel.davies@rbi.co.uk