Miller’s ‘steady’ hands remain at NFUS wheel

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NFU Scotland’s president, Nigel Miller, will be returned unopposed for another two year term at the union’s annual general meeting at St Andrews in February.

But the union will have a new vice-president following the decision of Fife farmer, John Picken, one of the union’s two vice-presidents, not to seek re-election nor challenge for the top position.

He will be succeeded by the chairman of the livestock committee, Rob Livesey, who will serve alongside Allan Bowie who has also been returned unopposed.

Both will be in pole position – if re-elected in 2014 - to challenge for the presidency in 2015 when Miller will have to stand down under union rules.

Miller, who farms in partnership with his two sons at Stagehall, Stow, Selkirkshire, and runs 175 suckler cows and 950 ewes on an upland unit, is seen as a safe pair of hands and will lead the union through its centenary year in 2013.

Yesterday, he paid tribute to Picken whose often “explosive” comments during his two years as a vice-president had challenged union members and forced colleagues to look at issues in a new light.

Bowie, who was first elected a vice-president in 2009, farms 600 acres on short limited duration tenancy arrangements and contract farming agreements in Fife while Livesey has been a tenant of the 600 acre farm of Firth, Catshawhill, Melrose, since 1998 after a period as farm manager at Glenapp Estate, Ballantrae, Ayrshire. “I am passionate about Scottish agriculture and the crucial role the union has in securing a positive future for the industry,” he said. “I thoroughly enjoy the rough and tumble of agri-politics and the time is right to have a go at a higher level.”

Chief executive Scott Walker said the new team faced a “hugely important” time for the industry with negotiations on reform of the Common Agricultural Policy gathering momentum.

“Every sector of our industry faces a growing list of challenges,” he said. “Our presidential team has the skills and knowledge to meet those challenges on behalf of our members.”