Presidential candidates set out priorities at NFUS hustings

The three farmers standing for the role of president of NFU Scotland are due to set out their stalls at the first of a nine-day tour of regional hustings.

Current president Allan Bowie is standing for the position, along with his two vice presidents Rob Livesey and Andrew McCornick.

The election will take place at the union’s council meeting in Glasgow on 7 February.

See also: NFU Scotland leadership team faces shake-up

Allan Bowie

Mr Bowie has been in the role for two years and will need to secure at least 50% of the ballot in the first round of voting if he is to be re-elected.

He lives in St Andrews and contract farms 405ha in Fife and Clackmannanshire. The business is predominantly arable.

In a biography circulated ahead of the meeting, Mr Bowie said he was an experienced candidate who hoped his track record would speak for itself on issues such as lobbying over the government’s failure to deliver farm payments.

He also regarded getting the right deal for Scotland as Brexit edges closer as “unfinished business” and he wanted to be at the forefront of those discussions.

“The challenges will continue to come down the track and I will continue to stand up to those challenges with the help of the team that is elected,” he said.

“I will continue to fight for a profitable Scottish agriculture, harness the drive, passion and enthusiasm in our industry and to keep pressing the message that farming and food production matters.”

Rob Livesey

Rob Livesey is a tenant farmer at Firth, near Melrose, in the Scottish borders. He runs 1,100 Mule ewes and 80 Salers and has 51ha of cereals.

The next two years would be crucial for the future of agriculture and he was the person to drive forward to get the best possible deal for future generations, he said.

“We must pull together as an industry to do that and I believe I have that ability to keep the industry united.

“It’s imperative that we engage and persuade a far wider spread of the public, politicians, non-government organisations and stakeholders of the value and importance of our fantastic industry.

“If elected, I will work with the vice presidents, and the whole of the NFU Scotland team, to keep the momentum going, and provide direct, strong and honest leadership – not just talking and seeing no actions.”

Andrew McCornick

Andrew McCornick farms 243ha at Barnbackle, near Dumfries, running 160 suckler cows, 600 breeding ewes and a small herd of pedigree Charolais cattle.

His goal was a sustainable Scottish agricultural industry and he was someone who thrived on challenges and getting the most out of a situation, he said.

“With Brexit and Article 50 being triggered in the coming months, my priorities, if elected, will be to push for access to the single market allowing us to trade freely; obtaining greater certainty over funding that recognises our diverse farming and crofting,” he said.

“I will also be pressing for regulation that does not stifle and is proportionate and fair.

“We need fair prices with accountability and transparency from retailer up to producer, integrating contracts, volatility protection, marketing, codes of practice, grocery adjudicator, and collaboration right across the supply chain.”

The two vice-president positions will be contested by Less Favoured Areas chairman Martin Kennedy, Dumfries and Galloway regional chairman Gary Mitchell and Forth and Clyde regional chairman Tom French.

Where are the women?

An absence of women in the race to be elected as an NFUS officeholder has prompted the union to launch a survey asking women about any barriers they face.

Gemma Cooper, NFUS policy manager, said 25 women held positions in regional boards and head office committees. There were another 39 working in head office and the group secretary network.

But she added: “We cannot deny that in this day and age the public perception of an all-male board of directors and presidential team is something that some argue is no longer acceptable.

“I would urge as many members as possible to complete this survey as we are reliant on this to give us a steer on how best to proceed, and we are very keen that this is a membership-led initiative. This is a unique opportunity for woman to make their views heard and make a real difference.”

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