Essex farmer Guy Smith has withdrawn from the race to become NFU president – leaving the union’s deputy and vice presidents to fight it out for the top job.

Mr Smith said he had decided not to stand after NFU vice-president Adam Quinney confirmed he would challenge NFU deputy president Meurig Raymond for the union’s top job.

After submitting his election papers, Warwickshire farmer Mr Quinney told Farmers Weekly: “I’m a person who understands farmers and the pressure they are under.

“Over the last couple of years, I have developed a much better knowledge about how the NFU runs and the way it works – and perhaps where its strengths and weaknesses are.”

Mr Quinney said he had a long-term vision for the industry which faced some more immediate challenges, including issues around planning, access, technology, investment and taxation.

“I can bring that overview of saying these are the problems we need to be aware of as an industry, and this is the direction in which we should be going,” he said.

Due to be held next month, the NFU leadership elections are seen as wide open following a decision by union president Peter Kendall to stand down after eight years in office.

Mr Smith announced his decision to not to stand for NFU president on Tuesday (14 January).

“Delighted to see the Quinney hat in presidential ring,” he wrote on Twitter. “I have decided not to take up my nomination for president.”

Mr Smith was nominated to run for president by Essex NFU last November. At the time, he said his first concern was to ensure there was 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,” said Mr Smith.

“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.”

Although no longer in the running for president, Mr Smith isn’t out of the NFU elections altogether, having accepted a nomination from the East Anglia NFU board to run for vice-president.

More candidates could emerge before nominations close at 5pm on Wednesday (15 January). But the full list of known candidates so far is:

President:
Meurig Raymond (Pembrokeshire), Adam Quinney (Warwickshire).

Deputy president
Minette Batters (Wiltshire), David Brookes (Staffordshire), Thomas Binns (Lancashire), Rosey Dunn (Yorkshire), Adam Quinney (Warwickshire).

Vice-president
Minette Batters (Wiltshire), David Brookes (Staffordshire), Thomas Binns (Lancashire), Rosey Dunn (Yorkshire), Jonathan Brant (Lincolnshire), Robert Lasseter (Dorset), Guy Smith (Essex).

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