Kendall wants another term as president

Farm leader Peter Kendall says he wants to serve another term as NFU president.

This year’s NFU Conference, (pdf) which starts on Monday (16 February), marks the start of Mr Kendall’s fourth year as union president.

Although a presidential election is not due until 2010, Mr Kendall told Farmers Weekly he was already preparing to carry on as leader.

To stand again, he would require 75% of the vote from NFU Council.

“Unless I am told by my council that I am doing a crap job, I would be keen to put my name forward,” said Mr Kendall.

“My wife hasn’t threatened to put me in the spare room on the back of that – at least I think she knows that is what I am thinking at this moment in time – and my brother probably doesn’t want me back on the farm.”

Mr Kendall’s straight-talking presidency has seen NFU membership grow for the first time in 17 years, with 700 farmers joining in the past 12 months.

The union now has 55,000 farming members.

Mr Kendall said he believed his biggest achievement was improving the way the government viewed farming.

“Changing the agenda from farming being a pain in the backside to farming being an important industry is a big part of our focus,” he said.

But Mr Kendall views the government’s refusal to sanction a badger cull to combat bovine tuberculosis as his biggest failure.

“To actually allow TB to gallop away is bonkers.

“It’s mad and we must do something about it. And I say that against a backdrop of knowing [a decision] will not be good PR for farming.”

NFU Council member Guy Smith, who wrote the book From Campbell to Kendall, detailing 100 years of NFU presidents, suggested Mr Kendall was doing a good job.

“The most successful presidents have led from the front foot and Peter has the same can-do leadership qualities and positive personality as them.”

Mr Smith said he ranked Mr Kendall alongside NFU presidents such as Jim Turner in the 1950s and Henry Plumb in the 1970s.

Mr Turner was credited with helping to revitalise and modernise agriculture in the aftermath of World War II.

Lord Plumb served as NFU president from 1970-79 before going on to become a successful politician and President of the European Parliament.

But Mr Smith cautioned that any NFU presidency was partly characterised by outside events, such as food scares or other crises.

“Peter may still have a challenge or two waiting round the corner which may, in time, colour the way he is remembered.”