Counties with most NFU members will have a bigger say in who becomes the next NFU president as the union strives to introduce a fairer voting system.

NFU officeholders are elected by the union’s ruling council – which consists of about 80 representatives from the counties of England and Wales. Council representatives themselves are elected by regular NFU members in the county they represent.

For the first time in 2014, votes for all three NFU officeholders will be weighted according to the size of county each council member represents (see table). This is calculated using the county’s share of member subscriptions as a proportion of total NFU subscription income.

The new system is being introduced because the NFU says it is “fairer and more proportionate”. It says it means every county in England and Wales can send voting representatives to the NFU Council and their votes accurately reflect the size of NFU membership in each county.

Candidates must secure at least 50% of the vote to win. If this doesn’t happen in the first round of votes, a “devil take the hindmost” approach sees the candidate with least votes drop out. Other candidates may withdraw if they wish. The process is then repeated until a winner is found.

Most counties have two council members – a county chairman and county delegate. Both are entitled to vote in officeholder elections. But in another first for 2014, NFU commodity board chairmen and sitting national officeholders no longer get a vote.

Other new features introduced a number of new features, include hustings in each region, where candidates make presentations and answer questions from farmers at open meetings. Hustings start on Monday (27 January).

Candidates are also able to make a final pitch to council at the election meeting immediately before council members cast their vote. This year’s election takes place following the NFU annual conference on Wednesday 26 February.

County

Votes

Split

Anglesey

1

(1,0)

Beds & Hunts

5

(3,2)

Berks, Bucks & Oxon

12

(6,6)

Brecon & Radnor

4

(4,0)

Cambridgeshire

9

(5,4)

Carmarthenshire

3

(3,0)

Ceredigion

2

(2,0)

Cheshire

7

(4,3)

Clwyd

5

(5,0)

Cornwall

6

(3,3)

Cumbria

14

(7,7)

Derbyshire

5

(3,2)

Devon

17

(9,8)

Dorset

8

(4,4)

East Sussex

2

(1,1)

Essex

8

(4,4)

Glamorgan

2

(2,0)

Gloucs & N Avon

8

(4,4)

Hampshire

7

(4,3)

Herefordshire

7

(4,3)

Hertfordshire

4

(2,2)

Isle of Wight

1

(n/a,1)

Kent

10

(5,5)

Lancashire

8

(4,4)

Leics, Northants, Rut

12

(6,6)

Lincolnshire

12

(6,6)

Lincs/Holland

4

(2,2)

Merionethshire

1

(1,0)

Mid Gwynedd

1

(1,0)

Monmouthshire

3

(3,0)

Montgomeryshire

3

(2,0)

Norfolk

12

(6,6)

N Riding & Durham

11

(6,5)

Northumberland

6

(3,3)

Nottinghamshire

4

(2,2)

Pembrokeshire

4

(4,0)

Shropshire

9

(5,4)

Somerset & S Avon

12

(6,6)

Staffordshire

9

(5,4)

Suffolk

9

(5,4)

Surrey

2

(1,1)

Warwickshire

5

(3,2)

West Sussex

3

(2,1)

Wiltshire

7

(4,3)

Worcestershire

3

(2,1)

York East

12

(6,6)

Yorks & W Riding

8

(4,4)

Total

307