NFU president Peter Kendall will not face a leadership challenge from his deputy Meurig Raymond next month, Farmers Weekly can reveal.
Mr Raymond has faced mounting calls to stand for the union’s top job in the NFU presidential elections, which take place on 22 February.
The union’s biennial election cycle means all three NFU top posts – president, deputy president and vice president – are up for grabs.
But after weeks of deliberation, Mr Raymond has finally chosen not to run for president. Instead, he will instead stand for re-election as deputy president.
Mr Raymond reached the decision after a family discussion at the weekend.
He said: “With so many big issues on the agenda, including CAP reform and bovine TB, keeping the NFU top team together is the best decision.”
Mr Raymond paid tribute to his supporters, acknowledging the news would come to them as a disappointment.
“I want to thank them for nominating me,” he told Farmers Weekly. “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.
His decision not to stand now paves the way for Mr Kendall to be re-elected for a fourth consecutive term of office – so long as he secures 75% of the vote.
That is now increasingly likely, with vice-president Gwyn Jones standing for re-election having already ruled out a bid for the union presidency.
Nominations for candidates close at 5pm on Wednesday (11 January).
Contenders have already emerged for the posts of deputy and vice-president.
They include former NFU vice-president Paul Temple, who will challenge Mr Raymond for the position of deputy president.
Mr Temple, who resigned for personal and business reasons in 2009, told Farmers Weekly he felt he still had a lot to offer the union.
“I still feel passionate about being part the NFU and what the NFU can do.”
Four candidates have been mentioned in connection with the role of vice-president, although it remains to be seen whether all will stand.
They are Cumbria farmer Alistair Mackintosh, Devon farmer Anthony Rew, Kent farmer Kevin Attwood and Lincolnshire farmer Jonathan Brant.