Welsh farmer Meurig Raymond will face a challenge for the role of NFU president in the union’s leadership elections next year.
Essex farmer Guy Smith will run for NFU president after accepting a nomination by his county branch on Monday (11 November).
He is the first candidate to confirm he will stand against Mr Raymond, who announced last month he would run for president after eight years as union deputy.
“I’m very proud to have been nominated by my county for the positions of NFU president and deputy president,” said Mr Smith.
“In running for the presidency my first concern is to ensure there is 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. 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.”
All three positions of NFU president, deputy president and vice-president are up for grabs in NFU leadership elections due to take place on 26 February.
The contest is seen as an open race following a decision by NFU president Peter Kendall to step down after eight years at the helm.
Mr Smith has also accepted a nomination to run for NFU deputy president.
“I’m keen to give both posts my best shot,” he said.
“If I had one urgent and immediate policy goal it would simply to make sure we ask DEFRA at every turn ‘what impact would this proposal have on UK farm production?’
“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.”
“It is a question that is not asked enough and it is how we have sleepwalked into declining food security in this country over the past 30 years.
Other potential candidates for the leadership elections are also emerging.
NFU vice-president Adam Quinney has yet to confirm whether he will stand for re-election or try to move up the pecking order by standing for president or deputy president.
Mr Quinney told Farmers Weekly he would announce his decision after Christmas.
Dorset farmer Robert Lasseter is canvassing views before choosing whether to run. He has yet to decide which of the three positions he might contest – but has not ruled out running for president.
Mr Lasseter said: “It would be a real privilege to seek a position to continue the work that Peter Kendall has done and have the opportunity to turn my vision into reality.”
Meanwhile, Wiltshire farmer Minette Batters and Yorkshire farmer Rosey Dunn have confirmed they will stand for either the posts of NFU deputy president or vice-president or both.
Lincolnshire farmer Jonathan Brant has confirmed he will run for NFU vice-president.
Ms Batters, Mrs Dunn and Mr Brant are all members of NFU council, which is seen as a natural springboard for farmers seeking to become a union officeholder.
Somerset farmer James Small, who is also an NFU council member, said he would give it “serious consideration” if nominated to run for the post of NFU vice-president.
All nominations must be received by Wednesday 15 January. The election is due to take place on 26 February 2014 after the NFU annual conference in Birmingham.
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