Lincs farmer in bid for NFU vice-presidency

Lincolnshire farmer Jonathan Brant is to stand for the position of NFU vice-president in the union’s forthcoming leadership elections.

Mr Brant, who farms at Normanby-le-Wold, near Market Rasen, confirmed his intention to run for the vice-president role to Farmers Weekly on Monday (11 November).

A beef and arable farmer, Mr Brant is currently Lincolnshire NFU county delegate. He has five years experience on the union’s ruling council.

“There are many issues out there which need to be addressed and I believe I have the experience to deal with them,” he said.

“I have dealt with DEFRA officials and politicians and I have got along with them.”

Big issues which needed resolving included a replacement for the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme (SAWS), abolished by the government this autumn.

The end of SAWS, which provided farms with temporary workers from overseas during peak times, threatened to be a serious problem for the horticultural industry, said Mr Brant.

The battle against bovine tuberculosis in badgers and cattle also needed stepping up.

“We have gained a little on bovine TB but I believe there should be a general licence allowing farmers to control diseased badgers nationally.”

The disease was continuing to spread and needed to be tackled in so-called “edge areas” rather than focusing on TB hotspots.

Mr Brant said it was “mischievous and naughty” to suggest farmers wanted to kill badgers for the sake of it. But it was vital to get on top of the disease.

“You don’t fight a fire from the from the middle – you fight it from the outside and work your way in,” he told Farmers Weekly.

“Unless we control infected badgers and infected setts we are on to a loser.”

Speaking more broadly, Mr Brant said he would like to encourage more collaboration between farmers. This included establishing production and marketing cooperatives.

“I would like to see more farmers working together – sharing machinery and other resources. It is already done on the cereals side and I believe it can work in other sectors too.”

Mr Brant stood unsuccessfully for the post of NFU vice-president last time union elections were held in February 2012. Afterwards, he vowed to stand again.

His decision to do so brings to four the number of candidates who have so far confirmed they will run in the union’s leadership elections next February.

Current NFU deputy president Meurig Raymond has confirmed he will run for president following Peter Kendall’s decision to step down after eight years as union leader.

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.

Other potential candidates are also emerging.

They could include Somerset farmer James Small, who said he would give it “serious consideration” if nominated to run for the post of NFU vice-president.

Current 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 deputy president or president.

Mr Quinney told Farmers Weekly he would make a decision after Christmas.

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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