06 October 1998
More details of NFU shake-up plans
By Johann Tasker
MORE details have emerged of the planned shake-up of the National Farmers Union.
NFU leaders meeting on Thursday (8 October) will discuss proposals which could pave the way for radical reform within the union.
Wide-sweeping recommendations for change will be proposed at NFU Council in London by an NFU working party called the Membership Group.
The Membership Group will recommend that NFU office-holders should be elected in a way which attracts grassroots farmers who currently feel isolated and under-represented by the union.
Many grassroots farmers claim that existing methods of electing NFU regional representatives are too complicated and off-putting.
The Membership Group will also recommend that local and county democracy should be refined to “remove duplication and improve accessibility.”
“Most members and Council representatives believe that there should be more open and democratic procedures in the regions for election to Council,” claims an interim report obtained by Farmers Weekly.
The report also recommends that the election and selection of NFU office-holders should be made more transparent.
The Membership Group started work in January. It was given a remit to examine ways of reviewing the NFUs democratic structure to better represent farmers interests.
The Membership Group discovered that:
- 87% of NFU members are not interested in attending NFU meetings;
- 62% never attend meetings;
- 71% who do attend meetings are doubtful of their value;
- 76% would not take part in meetings even if they were valuable.
The Membership Group found:
- Widespread indifference, apathy, and lack of knowledge about NFU activities;
- Younger farmers especially feeling alienated by traditional NFU structures;
- Most NFU work is complex, technical and dull. Few want to be involved;
- Many members said old-fashioned and rigid NFU procedures were off-putting.