March 11 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, February 27, 2014
The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has elected a new crop of leaders at its conference in Birmingham, including Essex farmer Guy Smith, who becomes vice president.
Meurig Raymond was voted in as NFU president, taking over the reins from Peter Kendall, and Minette Batters is the new deputy president.
Mr Smith, who runs a mixed farm in St Osyth and has several diversifications including a golf course, shop, fishing lakes and an airstrip, said he was “shellshocked, stunned and speechless” following his election.
“It’s sinking in. I don’t under-estimate the enormity of the task, but I think I worked hard for it,” he said.
He adds the eastern region balance to the NFU presidential team, as Mr Raymond is from Wales, and Mrs Batters from Hampshire, and is hoping to use his role to help farming to link better with the public, he says.
“My passion has always been to get better messages out to the non-farming public so they can better understand agriculture,” he said.
He thanked his fellow farmers for their support.
“I’m also grateful to the eastern region for having the confidence in me to nominate me for the role in the first place,” he said.
“I’m really looking forward to working with Meurig and Minette on the challenges we face, particularly the need to grow UK farm production.
“One of the areas I’m passionate about is raising the profile of farming and explaining what goes on beyond the farm gate. I’m keen to continue that in my new role.”
Guy was instrumental in setting up the Essex Schools and Farming Day at Writtle College, an annual event that helps thousands of children discover more about agriculture, where their food comes from and the countryside.
He has represented Essex on the NFU’s Council for eight years and is a former regional chairman of NFU East Anglia. He also chairs the NFU’s communications committee and wrote the book marking the NFU’s centenary in 2008.
He is a Fellow of the Royal Agricultural Society and received an Honorary Doctorate for services to agriculture from Essex University.
NFU Regional Board chairman Michael Sly said: “On behalf of East Anglian farmers I’d like to congratulate Guy on his election.
“He joins a very strong team that has a good balance of all the farming sectors. His knowledge and experience, particularly with communications and education issues, will be extremely valuable in the months ahead.”
Mr Smith farms on some of the driest land in Britain, is in the Higher Level Stewardship scheme, and about 10% of his 1,200 acres is conserved for habitat and food for wildlife and birds.