At least nine names have been put forward for the three positions of NFU president, deputy president and vice-president, Farmers Weekly has learned.

Nominations for the NFU’s presidential race close at the end of today (Friday, 6 January) and the elections will take place at the union’s annual conference on 28 February.

Farmers For Action chairman David Handley is understood to have secured the 20 names needed to stand for election as leader of the union, so that he can challenge Tim Bennett.

The other name in the frame for the top job is that of current deputy president Peter Kendall, although he has not said whether he intends to run for the position.

Mr Handley’s co-chairman of the Better NFU campaign group, Derek Mead, is understood to have been nominated for the post of deputy president.

But the race for the post of vice-president could be the most fiercely fought, with five names put forward by farmer members around the country.

These are understood to be current vice-president Meurig Raymond, livestock board chairman Richard Haddock, milk board chairman Gywn Jones, combinable crops board vice-chairman Paul Temple and food standards spokesman Michael Seals.

But being nominated does not mean the farmers will definitely run for the post and Mr Haddock and Mr Temple have both indicated they are yet to make up their minds.

Mr Seals has said he does intend to run for the job and Mr Jones was unavailable for comment as FW went to press on Wednesday (4 Jan).

Lucilla Evers, NFU company secretary, refused to confirm any of the names – or the positions for which they have been nominated – before nominations closed.

“Nominations could still come in,” she said. “It would be inappropriate to comment.”