Candidates for NFU Scotland’s (NFUS) officeholder elections have set off on a whistle-stop tour of the country to take part in a series of regional hustings.
The six contenders will address members in Stepps, Dingwall, Perth, Tarbert, Cumnock, Castle Douglas, Carfraemill, Inveruriem, Kirkwall and Lerwick in an attempt to secure votes.
Up for the position of president are incumbent Allan Bowie and sitting vice presidents Rob Livesey and Andrew McCornick.
Forth and Clyde regional chairman Tom French, less favoured areas committee chairman Martin Kennedy and Dumfries and Galloway regional chairman Gary Mitchell will battle it out for the two vice presidential roles.
NFU chief executive Scott Walker said: “It is hugely encouraging for the future of NFU Scotland and the sign of a healthy and vibrant union that we have so many excellent candidates standing for election.
“I wish each one of them the very best and urge them to make the most of this fantastic, if hectic, round of meetings.
“They all have the skills and experience to do a great job for NFUS and this is their opportunity to convince members they have a role to play for the union as we tackle the major challenges ahead.”
Voting will take place at the union’s council meeting at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Glasgow on Tuesday 7 February 2017.
All candidates have outlined their priorities for the NFUS and Scottish agriculture here.
Mr Bowie farms in Clackmannanshire with his wife Christine and son Callum, majoring on growing cereals. The farm extends to about 405 ha (1,000 ac) on contract farming agreements.
He was chairman of the North-East Fife branch and served two years as chairman for East Central region before being elected vice president in February 2009. In 2015, he was elected president.
Mr Livesey farms Firth Farm near Lilliesleaf in the Scottish Borders with 1,100 mules ewes, 80 salers cows and 125 acres of cereals. The Firth is a tenanted farm of 243 ha (600 ac) and a further 80 ha (200 ac) is rented nearby.
Mr Livesey has been a vice president for almost four years and was Livestock Committee chairman for four years before that. He is also a past president of the Selkirk branch.
Prior to taking the tenancy of the Firth, he managed a large estate in south Ayrshire for seven years after leaving the family farm at Bonchester Bridge. Mr Livesey was first elected vice president in February 2013.
Mr McCornick was born and brought up on a dairy farm in Wigtown. He and his wife Janice farm their 230+ ha (570 ac) unit with 160 suckler cows, 600 breeding ewes and small herd of pedigree charolais cattle.
Mr McCornick was vice chairman of the Dumfries branch before moving on to his previous role of regional board chairman for Dumfries and Galloway. He also sat on the Less Favoured Areas Support Scheme (LFASS) committee and was elected vice president in February 2015.
VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES
Mr French farms 80 ha (200 ac) of upland grass and arable, rented from Douglas and Angus estates. The farm business produces suckled calves, sold as stores at 11 to 15-months-old. He has previously grown 8-12 ha (20-30 ac) of spring barley for home feed and bedding, but this is currently being reviewed with a view to establishing a sheep enterprise.
Mr French is a past chairman of Lanark and District Young Farmers and served two years as chairman of Clydesdale Branch of NFUS.
After two years as Forth and Clyde regional vice chairman, he was elected regional chairman in January 2012. He is also vice president of Lanark Agricultural Discussion Society.
Mr Kennedy farms with his wife Jane in Highland Perthshire on a hill farm rising to 2,500ft. They have 600 breeding ewes, 30 continental cows and 30 highlanders.
He served two years as Highland Perthshire branch president and represented East Central region on the Less Favoured Areas (LFA) committee in 2009 before being elected vice chairman for three years. He is currently serving his second year as chairman and has also been chairman of Aberfeldy Show and Highland Games for the past six years.
Mr Mitchell operated an arable and beef enterprise until September 2007 when he switched to dairying, starting with 130 cows while converting the farm. He now milks 800, with all female young-stock over three months old reared off-farm under contract.
He farms 303 ha (750 ac), of which 182 ha (450 ac) are owned and 121 ha (300 ac) rented – half on a five-year tenancy. Around 60 ha (150 ac) are zero grazed; 151 ha (375 ac) are grown for silage and 91 ha (225 ac) are in winter wheat.
Mr Mitchell was Milk Committee chairman from 2012 to 2014 and he has been regional chairman for Dumfries and Galloway since February 2014.