Six individuals have put their names forward to lead NFU Scotland through what is likely to be one of the most challenging periods in its 104-year history.
Current president Allan Bowie will be challenged for the top job by the two vice-presidents, Andrew McCornick and Rob Livesey, at the union’s agm to be held in Glasgow in February.
To be honest I’m quite excited by the electionAllan Bowie
Under the union’s constitution, Bowie will have to gain more than 50 per cent of the votes in the first round or stand down, leaving the second vote to be a straight race between the two remaining candidates.
And with none of the existing top team putting their names forward for re-election to the vice positions, the two posts will be contested by three time-served committee and regional board chairmen. Standing for these posts will be LFA chairman Martin Kennedy, Dumfries & Galloway regional chairman Gary Mitchell and Forth & Clyde regional chairman Tom French.
Put on the spot to kick-off the electioneering at a press briefing yesterday, Bowie said he hoped he had shown that he had the experience to rise to the challenges which the industry was undoubtedly set to face.
“To be honest I’m quite excited by the election and while it is excellent to have such a strong line up of candidates, I know there is still much for the union to do and I feel I still have a lot to offer and hope that my track record will speak for itself,” he said.
“I see the job as a team effort and it is often important to delegate – but over the past two years I would like to think that I haven’t dropped the ball and stood up to the challenges.”
He cited the pressure which the union had applied during the computer fiasco earlier in the year, when many farmers were suffering severe cash flow problems, as an example of how his leadership could help people in difficult times.
Dumfriesshire farmer McCornick – who was elected to the vice-president post in February 2015 – said that he would be “a bit more robust”, adding that the union needed a strong strategy for the membership to engage with.
He said he was driven by the need to make a big difference and realised the need to fight to get the authorities to listen – and pay heed – to the needs of the industry, adding: “I appreciate the enormity of the impact of the Brexit vote and the fact that we need to address all these issues – but we also need to keep our eyes on the day to day stuff.”
Borders farmer Livesey, who has been a vice-president since 2013, however, said he refused to be drawn into any criticism of the rest of the team which he had worked with over recent years.
“Happily this isn’t an episode of The Apprentice and I don’t want to knock the other candidates,” he said.
Livesey said that he felt deeply uncomfortable about blowing his own trumpet – and that it was up to the membership to judge how they viewed him.