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Candidates are battling it out to earn NFU votes

By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: February 13, 2014

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THE National Farmers' Union will elect a new president and senior officers at its annual conference later this month.

There are nine candidates for the various posts but just two – Meurig Raymond and Adam Quinney – are battling to succeed Peter Kendall, who is standing down after eight years as president.

All the candidates came to the South West when they visited Exeter recently.

The votes from delegates to the NFU Council from the South West matter more now because of a change in the rules that weights the number of votes for each county, depending on its size.

The South West as a whole now gets 58 votes, made up of six from Cornwall, 17 from Devon, 12 from Somerset and South Avon, eight from Dorset, eight from Gloucestershire and North Avon, and seven from Wiltshire.

Here we detail the candidates and the main thrust of their arguments.

MEURIG RAYMOND

Nominated for president

FARMS 3,400 acres in Pembrokeshire in partnership with his twin brother, Maunsel. The farm grows 2,200 acres of combinable crops and 300 acres of potatoes. There are 620 dairy cows, with 300 followers; also 600 head of beef cattle and about 2,500 store lambs.

He has been deputy president to Peter Kendall for eight years and described himself to South West members as "a better listener".

He believes the big issues facing farming are food security and achieving recognition of the low returns that are made by farmers.

"I will passionately argue the importance of agriculture and the need to achieve a more vibrant, profitable industry which will encourage young people into farming," he said.

ADAM QUINNEY

Nominated for president and deputy president

FARMS 180 hectares of rented land at Sambourne, near Redditch, on the Worcestershire-Warwickshire border. The enterprise includes a suckler unit, a beef finishing unit, breeding ewes and 40 hectares of arable.

Adam was elected NFU vice-president in 2012. He told South West members he wanted to take the politics out of the badger cull debate and that he believed the UK dairy sector had a great future and could become "the New Zealand of Europe". He said it was important to make more dairy products, not just liquid milk.

He said his strengths were "to communicate with the press, general public, politicians and members, and have a clear view on what is the right direction for policy, by listening to members".

MINETTE BATTERS

Nominated for deputy president and vice-president

KEEPS more than 300 head of stock on a tenanted holding near Salisbury, finishing Angus cattle on a premium scheme for a major retailer. She has diversified into horse livery, converted a 17th-century tithe barn into a wedding and corporate events venue and runs a catering business.

She told South West members that she believed the UK should follow the Irish lead and draw up a strategic business plan for agriculture. She also stressed her support for family farms and the need for better communication in promoting agriculture.

THOMAS BINNS

Nominated for deputy president and vice-president

FARMS 650 tenanted hectares near Clitheroe, Lancashire, rearing beef and sheep. He also has a dairy supply business. He told South West members that he believed self-sufficiency in food should be a priority for the UK and that a rising world population offered great opportunities for British farmers.

On the battle against bovine TB he said: "In the short term it's about securing the principle of wildlife control." He added that he believes farmers feel let down by CAP reform.

DAVID BROOKES

Nominated for deputy president and vice-president

FARMS near Uttoxeter, Staffordshire with his family, running a 350-strong dairy herd. He has served as a local councillor and, in 2012, launched the Dairy SOS campaign to secure a better future for dairy farmers.

He told South West members he was not a single-issue candidate, despite his work on behalf of the dairy sector.

He argued for further de-regulation and the cutting of red tape. "We have had a perverse amount of regulation foisted upon us over seven years that does not help the consumer," he said.

ROSEY DUNN

Nominated for deputy president and vice-president

RUNS a mixed farm of beef, sheep and arable in Yorkshire. She told South West members she aimed to cover all sectors of agriculture if she was elected, and wanted UK farmers to become more proactive in Europe.

She said there was "no reason" upland farmers should not have a dedicated voice on the NFU Council.

"We have lost trust with the supermarkets and until we can trust them again it is going to be difficult, but they are our biggest customers," she said.

JONATHAN BRANT

Nominated for vice-president

FARMS combinable crops and beef near Market Rasen, Lincolnshire. He told South West members he thought the handling of the Somerset Levels' flooding had been horrendous. "If I was the head of the Environment Agency I would have resigned," he said.

He said the potential loss of chemicals for crop protection, along with reform of the Common Agricultural Policy and bovine TB, were the biggest challenges facing farmers.

"Communication is so important and my experience and working relationship with local TV and radio on all aspects of farming helps the public become more knowledgeable about our industry," he said.

ROBERT LASSETER

Nominated for vice-president

GROWS arable crops to feed to his pigs on a 400-acre holding at Upwey, between Weymouth and Dorchester, in Dorset. He told South West members: "We face some really big challenges, from global warming to political cutbacks, but I see them as opportunities. If we can get the practicalities right, we can go forward."

He also mentioned the restrictions on crop protection chemicals. "We have got 800 actives going down to 150." he said. "Let's see what effect that has on yields and what they will come down to – and how that will push up prices."

GUY SMITH

Nominated for vice-president

HAS a mainly arable farm on the Essex coast. He told South West members he thought the NFU needed a board to deal with environmental issues.

He also said the expanding global population offered opportunities for British farmers and that, although there was a balance to be struck over renewables, he thought it was time to "ratchet back" on "over-generous" tariffs.

On badgers and bovine TB, he was concerned the cull would be seen as an NFU operation not a Government one.

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2 comments

  • Clued-Up  |  February 13 2014, 11:40AM

    Guy Smith is right to say the public holds the NFU to blame for the badger cull; they also blame out of touch, ill-informed and determinedly ignorant DEFRA ministers for it. Both the NFU and the government should have realised the badger cull would be a political, economic and social disaster - every independent scientist, animal health expert and public finance advisor warned them against starting it. The NFU has trashed the reputation of British farming by its support of the badger cull.

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  • Clued-Up  |  February 13 2014, 11:29AM

    Nominee Thomas Binn's statement the badger cull has been "about securing the principle of wildlife control" confirms what many of us have long believed - the driver for the badger cull wasn't because of cattle bTB, it was landowners' yearning to put aside all legal protection for the UK's wildlife (badgers, otters, golden eagles, red kites, hawks, etc). That's why so much of the badger cull took place on shooting estates and land where there were no cattle. I hope the determined resistance to the badger cull from all parts of the community will have convinced landowners and the NFU the public value our wildlife and want the hard fought for legal protections to continue.

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