The NFU council is meeting today to discuss the union’s position ahead of the EU Referendum vote on June 23.
The NFU’s ruling body will seek to balance the differing views of its membership as it sets about deciding what position the union should take ahead of the EU Referendum vote in June.
In a debate scheduled for this afternoon, NFU council members will discuss the findings of a report it commissioned by a Dutch university laying out various scenarios for how Brexit could affect farmers.
The meeting follows 28 regional events staged to throughout England and Wales held to discuss the report and hear the views of grassroots members.
NFU president Meurig Raymond said: "Our council delegates will come with the views that were expressed at those meetings.
"We will go through the presentation of our report laying out the various scenarios, then council will have to decide, on the back of the presentations and the regional meetings, on whether NFU will produce a view and take a lead."
The council will also discuss the findings of a member survey on Brexit, carried in recent weeks by its call centre.
Mr Raymond said: "We have a good feel what the mood of the industry is, what the concerns are, so we will have the discussion and hopefully come to a unanimous view as to what the NFU line should be, purely from a farming perspective."
The council will face something of a balancing act in coming to a united position. While most unofficial polls suggest NFU members and the wider farming community are leaning towards staying in the NFU, there are plenty in favour of Brexit, while many remain undecided.
The question is whether the NFU council feels it has a mandate to come out unambiguously in support of ’remain’ or whether it seeks to maintain a more nuanced position in, reflecting the diversity of views among members. There is negligible prospect of the union backing Brexit.
Whatever, view union ends up adopting, it is unlikely to adopt a formal campaigning stance ahead of the vote as this has all sorts of legal implications.
Mr Raymond said: "We may come out with a view but we won’t be campaigning as such because there is more to people’s decision-making than just farming.
"We will put out the evidence and advise farmers but there are some big legal issues around campaigning and we have to respect all our members’ views, so we won’t be out there officially campaigning."
Of the NFU leadership team, only deputy president Minette Batters has formally stated her position, putting her name to the Farmers for Britain campaign, led by former NFU president Sir Peter Kendall.
Mr Raymond, although often appearing to lean towards the remain vote, has never formally stated his position.
He said: "As president of the NFU, would take the view of council."
He said the three biggest issues for the farming sector were, in the event of Brexit, whether a future UK Government would continue to support farmers to the same extent as under the CAP, given the wider pressures on spending, the trade implications and access to labour.