More challengers for top NFU jobs

15 December 1999

More challengers for top NFU jobs

By Johann Tasker

MORE candidates have emerged in the leadership race which could see Ben Gill ousted as president of the National Farmers Union, Farmers Weekly can reveal.

Three more prominent contenders have been nominated as candidates in the forthcoming NFU elections, bringing the number of candidates so far to six.

NFU deputy-president Tim Bennett, Leicestershire farmer Rad Thomas, and Shropshire grower Richard Watson Jones, have all entered the presidential race.

They join NFU deputy-president Tony Pexton and militant farmers leader Richard Haddock, who are already set to challenge Mr Gill for the unions top job.

New rules mean the unions existing posts of two equally-ranked deputy presidents will be replaced with one deputy and one lower-ranking vice-president.

Mr Bennett has received two nominations. He has been backed for re-election as deputy-president and also to run for the new post of vice-president.

Mr Thomas and Mr Watson Jones, both high-ranking NFU officials, have accepted separate nominations to run as candidates for the post of vice-president.

Mr Thomas, chairman of the NFU oils, proteins and fibres committee, farms 255 hectares (630 acres) of arable and livestock enterprises in Leicestershire.

He said he was standing for election as a working farmer who wanted to repatriate NFU policy to the unions grassroots members.

“The problem is one of communication and I think that is what needs to be improved,” he said.

Mr Watson Jones, who farms 445 hectares (1100 acres) on the border of Staffordshire and Shropshire, is chairman of the NFU potatoes committee.

He was chairman of the NFU membership group which recommended earlier this year that the union should more fully meet the expectations if its members.

“We have seen some changes, but with any organisation in todays rapidly changing market, we need the flexibility and courage to prepare for the future.”

Most NFU regions have now chosen their candidates for election but more contenders could emerge before nominations close on 31 December.

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