Farm leaders hit NFU election campaign trail

Farm leaders are preparing to hit the campaign trail after nominations closed for next month’s NFU presidential elections.

NFU president Peter Kendall faces the prospect of being elected unopposed for a fourth consecutive term in office after no challengers emerged by the time nominations closed at 5pm on Wednesday (11 January). But he must still secure 75% of the vote because he has served three terms in office.

All three NFU top positions are up for grabs – president, deputy president and vice president. Voting takes place after the NFU annual conference and AGM in Birmingham on 22 February. Successful candidates will serve a two-year term from 2012 to 2014.

Eight farmers will contest the positions of deputy and vice presidents, with some candidates standing for both roles. They include deputy president Meurig Raymond and vice president Gwyn Jones, both seeking re-election.

Candidates will now take to the road for a four days of hustings. Beginning in London on Monday afternoon (16 January), they will travel to southwest England (16 Jan), Wales and the West Midlands (17 Jan), the north-west and north-east (18 Jan), East Anglia and the East Midlands (19 Jan).

Dismissing suggestions that a lack of challengers was bad for democracy, Mr Kendall reminded critics he must still be voted back into office. He added: “Farming faces some critical issues – including CAP reform and bovine TB. To leave now would be leave a job half done.”

Mr Raymond had faced calls to run for the union’s top job. But after weeks of deliberation, including family talks last weekend, he decided not against challenging Mr Kendall. “With so many big issues on the agenda, keeping the NFU top team together is the best decision,” he said.

Acknowledging the decision not to stand for president would come as a disappointment to his supporters, Mr Raymond added: “I want to thank them for nominating me. It hasn’t been easy to come to this decision, but I believe it is the right one.”

Last November, Mr Raymond secured provisional backing for a leadership from Devon NFU – one of the union’s biggest branches – with 2,842 members. He said he may still stand for NFU president in two years’ time, when Mr Kendall indicated he may stand down.

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