NFU candidates explain why they should be elected

Manifestos for the nine farmers standing for positions as NFU office holders have been released.

The election will take place at the union’s annual conference, during a closed meeting on Tues, 28 Feb.

The manifestos, in the candidates own words, are as follows:

RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT

TIM BENNETT

“My aim is to restore profitability and confidence in the industry.  The problems we face are complex, but these are the key priorities:

• Two Single Farm Payments in England in 2006
• Guaranteed match funding for the next Rural Development programme –  and no increased voluntary modulation
• Lower costs of regulation: the government’s 25% target reduction is a start, but their attitude on imposing costs has damaged our ability to compete – this must stop
• The market place is our future. Stricter scrutiny of the supply chain by the OFT is essential; the retailers’ statutory code of practice must be strengthened and widened
• Continued creation of opportunities for local food, public procurement and non-food crops.
• Public support is essential for a profitable, sustainable industry. I will work with others to communicate farming’s major achievements of producing world class food as well as a beautiful, healthy environment.”

DAVID HANDLEY

David is 54 years old and runs a Jersey dairy herd with his wife, in Monmouthshire.
 
After several years employed in agriculture and eager to further his experience in the corporate world, he took up a position in the meat industry, working for ABP group and others, being all major suppliers to supermarkets and food service industry throughout the world.
 
Voted ‘Farming Personality of the Year’ twice by readers of Farmers Weekly. In 2005 received ‘Dairy Industry Award’ for his contribution to the dairy industry.
 
Manifesto:
 
To bring all organisations representing agriculture together working more closely with NFU.
Campaign for British food – launch major initiative to persuade all government bodies to buy locally.
Call for a legally binding Supermarket Code of Practice.
Drastically improve the image of British agriculture to the consumer.
To challenge the union in its connection with grassroot members.

PETER KENDALL

“I will provide the whole industry with high profile leadership. It is essential that we promote and champion the quality, welfare and environmental standards of our food.  Climate change, fuel costs and development’s in China and India highlight the strategic importance of our industry. The president must ensure these messages are clearly communicated to our consumers, policy makers and trading partners.

“We face enormous competitive disadvantage after CAP reform and budget settlement, coupled with additional regulation we are putting our agriculture and horticulture in real jeopardy. This is worsened by our unequal struggle with the supermarkets. I fear that recent government policy decisions show we are losing the argument. As an organisation we must not be frightened to tell ministers frankly when they have got it wrong.

“I am a family farmer with three small children; like you I want a vibrant future for our industry. I need your support to be elected president.”

RUNNING FOR DEPUTY PRESIDENT

PETER KENDALL

See above

DEREK MEAD

“I believe passionately that British agriculture has a strong future and with a population of 60million people, I believe it is scandalous to allow our self-sufficiency to drop to circa 60%. We are very capable of achieving 75% self-sufficiency in food production.  The main problem is profitability and proper returns on capital invested and labour employed. We have got to stop the never ending drain on the % of the food £ and I believe the only way this can be achieved is to get a more transparent level playing field through a fair and equitable statutory code of conduct. I championed this through the proper channels from the County and Region to the Council, but the top table has ignored the County and Region, although have had the decency to admit that the voluntary code is a dead duck and wasted two years, resulting in the % of the food £ decreasing.”

MEURIG RAYMOND

“I farm in a family partnership in Pembrokeshire. We farm 2,750 acres. 1,400 are owned, 1,350 acres on agreements. It is a mixed farm. 600 dairy cows, 300 followers, 600 beef cattle & 2,500 lambs. We have 1,500 acres combinable crops plus 120 acres potatoes.

“It has been a privilege to have served as vice president during this term and I would be delighted to continue as an office holder. My priority is to ensure a profitable future for agriculture by setting a viable framework. The supply chain imbalance must be corrected and tougher statutory code of practice introduced.

“My view is if the centre of our fields are profitable, the headlands and hedgerows will be well managed by successful farming. Communicating to our membership and the public is fundamental and we must do better. This is a two-way process and we must also hear the views of our members. We must be relevant to all our members in the challenging years ahead.”

RUNNING FOR VICE PRESIDENT  

RICHARD HADDOCK

“I have spent a considerable amount of time during the past six years ‘in the field’ talking to ordinary members, listening to their concerns and trying to explain what is going on – in a nutshell I have been addressing the key concern of all NFU members and that is COMMUNICATION, breaking down the barrier between headquarters and grassroot members.  I am seen as a farmers’ man, representing the interests of farming and not afraid to speak out when necessary.

“I know that farmers are disillusioned after years of poor returns, never ending paperwork and the seeming complete indifference of government to our plight and to the future of food supplies. With my experience of the industry and my many contacts outside I have much to contribute and am determined to continue to battle for a more prosperous future.

“A friend described me the other day as:- committed, hard working, tenacious, fearless, a team player, devoted and a listener.”

GWYN JONES

“A dairy farmer in the south east, originally from North Wales; NFU Dairy Board Chairman, and member of NFU Council, Policy Board and Governance Board; a Nuffield Scholar, with a good knowledge and extensive experience of agriculture. 

“As a recognized reformer, I believe that I can play a major part in capitalising on the move to Stoneleigh, and assist the NFU in making a much-needed fresh start.

“I believe that the NFU needs to dramatically change the way it operates, and in order to achieve that; a cultural change at the very top is needed.  The NFU needs to communicate more effectively with its farmer members, and also needs to represent its members more vigorously.  I strongly believe that the NFU should be prepared, and be seen, to tough it out with government, stand up to retailers, and challenge NGO’s on behalf of its farmer members.  We need more passion! We need to show we care.”

MEURIG RAYMOND

See above

MICHAEL SEALS

“Our industry is in trouble! Talking to farmers, there is a constant message – an ever-increasing feeling of being helpless. Commodity prices are too low, costs rise inexorably as government piles on regulation and tax, whilst input costs rise from the oil price increase. Bluntly there is no profit, no cash, no youth and in all too many places – no hope.

“Members ask, where is the industry strategy? If government will not lead, then we, the NFU should. The NFU cannot cure these problems on its own, nor is outright militancy a solution, we need to create alliances from the whole food chain, together we are still a real force, individually government and retailers will do what they do so well – divide and rule.

“Increasing regulation adds to costs, the spokespeople cover many of these areas that system is not working well & must be addressed.”
 
PAUL TEMPLE

“A mixed tenant farmer; producing suckler beef from grass and fattening store cattle.  Arable cropping wheat, barley and oilseed rape with forage maize for cattle, potatoes and vining peas as members of a growers group for freezing.

“Married with two children, both interested in agriculture.  Their future and my love of farming motivates me to be involved in the NFU and long term outlook for agriculture.

“As an industry, with a short term difficult future, we have to adapt to see a way forward with a greater understanding of our customers, the food chain, non food and renewable opportunities, through the ability to cooperate between ourselves as never before.

“Our long term future lies in driving environmental issues, ensuring we use and invest in science for the next generation, actively directing farming at European level and holding government to account. Communicating all aspects of our work; both internally and externally.”

Which candidates do you think would make the most effective team? Have your say in the discussion area below. 

 

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