NFU president Meurig Raymond could face two challengers for his position in February’s NFU elections, one expected, the other very much less so.
Deputy president Minette Batters confirmed this week she will stand for president next month and, if unsuccessful, the deputy role again, after receiving nominations for the top job across most of the NFU’s South West branches.
But the other possible challenger will not be union vice president Guy Smith, who ruled himself out of the running for the top job earlier this week, but Cumbrian farmer Alistair Mackintosh.
In a late twist ahead of Friday’s (January 15) deadline for nominations, it emerged Mr Mackintosh,a former NFU livestock chairman, was also considering a leadership challenge.
Mr Mackintosh, who has contested previous NFU elections, has received nominations for both the president and deputy president positions. Speaking on Wednesday (January 13), he was still weighing up whether to accept the nominations.
With Mr Raymond having long stated his intention to stand for another two-year term, challenges by Mrs Batters, bidding to become the NFU’s first female president, and potentially Mr Mackintosh would ensure he faces a lively contest to retain his job.
NFU vice-president Guy Smith said 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: “I would relish the challenge of doing another two years as NFU vice-president under Meurig Raymond’s presidency, but if the deputy post opened up due to a change at the top, I clearly need to be in the race for that position as well.”
Ahead of Friday’s deadline, it appeared there would be seven candidates for the three NFU officeholder positions.
Yorkshire farmer Rosey Dunn, the North East regional board chairman and longstanding member of the NFU council and its governance board, confirmed she would be standing for the vice and deputy president posts.
NFU livestock chairman Charles Sercombe, Leicestershire, will also stand for the deputy and vice roles.
Devon farmer Anthony Rew, who like Mrs Dunn has taken part in previous elections, is set to challenge for the vice-president role.
Hertfordshire farmer and former Eblex chairman Stuart Roberts and Somerset farmer James Small received nominations, but have decided not to accept them.
Both have already stated their intention to stand in two years’ time however, with Mr Roberts understood to have already received a nomination for 2018.