Cumbrian farmer Alistair Mackintosh has been confirmed as a surprise challenger to NFU president Meurig Raymond in next month’s NFU leadership elections.
As revealed by FG Insight last week, Mr Mackintosh and NFU deputy president Minette Batters will vie with Mr Raymond for the top job at the end of the NFU conference and AGM in Birmingham in February.
Mr Mackintosh and Mrs Batters, if they are defeated in the leadership election, will battle it out with NFU vice president Guy Smith, livestock chairman Charles Sercombe and North East regional board chairman Rosey Dunn for the deputy president post.
The vice president election is set to be a four-way battle between Mr Smith, Mr Sercombe, Mrs Dunn and Devon farmer Anthony Rew.
While Mrs Batters was always considered likely to challenge Mr Raymond, having received nominations for the top job across the NFU’s South West regions, Mr Mackintosh, who has contested previous elections, is the surprise package.
Mr Mackintosh, a former NFU livestock chairman will be keen to give a voice to upland farmers in particular at a time when CAP reform and, in the north’ flooding has created significant difficulties for the sector.
Promising a ’fresh and ambitious’ approach for all sectors built on innovation and entrepreneurship, he said: "Providing clear leadership and vision for all sectors is required for a positive future."
Mrs Batters, a Wiltshire beef farmer, said she brought a proven business track record to the officeholder team and was a ’strong, tenacious leader’.
She said: "Farming profitability must drive a new ambition for the NFU."
Mr Raymond, who farms in Pembrokeshire, will start the contest in pole position to retain his post for another two years but knows he faces a tough challenge from Mrs Batters in particular.
He promised to hold government to account on all industry issues and to ’continue to listen and engage with members’.
"I have the passion, enthusiasm and motivation to achieve our objectives. Farming a mixed family business, I am acutely aware of all the issues we face," he said.
Mr Smith, who farms in Essex,, said last week he would not be taking up his nomination to stand for NFU president, but would challenge for the deputy and vice-president roles.
He said: "If I am returned to my current role as Vice President or promoted to Deputy President then I will continue to put in the hours and the hard work on behalf of all our 50,000 members."
Mr Sercombe who farms in Rutland, said he was 'acutely aware of the challenges facing our industry'.
He said: "My integrity and fair and open-minded approach allows me to reach the right conclusions when decisions need to be made."
Mrs Dunn, a member of the NFU's governance board who has also contested previous elections, said she was a 'proven communicator'.
She said: "As an experienced farmer with arable, beef, and sheep enterprises I am passionate about our industry, and well placed to understand our members' concerns."
Mr Rew, the current South West regional board chairman and governance board member, is another to have previous experience of NFU elections.
He said the industry needed to see 'a fair return and recognition for our efforts'.
He said: "We need to work together with genuine consultation and communication at all levels finding new solutions to create a clear vision and strategy for the future of our industry."
Click on the links below to read the full personal statements of the seven candidates, including their policy priorities: