NINE farmers will contest elections for the three senior NFU officeholder positions in February, the union has confirmed.

Nominations for the three positions closed on January 15.

With Peter Kendall standing down after eight years as president, the union’s current deputy president, Meurig Raymond, and vice-president Adam Quinney will go headto- head in a straight fight to succeed him.

Mr Raymond, who farms in Pembrokeshire and has been Mr Kendall’s deputy for the past eight years, will start as a firm favourite to receive the NFU council’s backing to lead the union through the next two years.

Mr Quinney, a Warwickshire farmer who came from nowhere to be elected as vicepresident two years ago, only confirmed his intention to challenge for the top job the day before nominations closed for the three elections.

He said he wanted to ensure a proper election for the top job and, while acknowledging Mr Raymond is a “strong candidate”, said he was going all out to win.

The races for deputy president and vice-president are both hotly contested, with successful candidates strong contenders to become future NFU leaders . Mr Quinney has also put his name forward in the deputy president race, where he will be up against four farmers, two of whom, Rosey Dunn, from Yorkshire and Thomas Binns from Lancashire, have stood in previous NFU elections.

Also standing is Wiltshire’s Minette Batters, a cattle farmer and co-founder of Ladies in Beef, who is tipped by many as a strong contender for either the deputy or vice-president roles, after impressing with her contributions in NFU council sessions over the years. She is a former Wiltshire NFU county chairman.

Mrs Batters farms 300 acres on a tenant farm, Barford Farm, on the Longford Estate just outside Salisbury.

The farm carries 100 Continental-bred suckler cows, with males finished as bull beef, some sold as stores and others finished and sold to local butchers.

The enterprise also includes a catering business, horse livery and an events venue.

David Brookes, a Staffordshire farmer who played a key role in the 2012 SOS Dairy campaign, is also contesting the deputy and vice-president elections.

Seven names have been confirmed for the vice-president contest.

Mrs Batters, Mr Binns, Mr Brooks and Mrs Dunn will contest the deputy and vicepresident roles. The other candidates for vice-president are Jonathan Brant, from Lincolnshire, Robert Lasseter from Dorset and Guy Smith from Essex.

Mr Lasseter, a former Dorset NFU county chairman and former regional board chairman, has served on the NFU ruling council and its governance board.

Although not currently an NFU council member, he is a Nuffield scholar and sits on the NFU national crops board.

He farms 400 acres between Weymouth and Dorchester, growing combinable crops and has a closed herd of pigs, which he sells to Tulip under the Freedom Food scheme.

In addition to his farming interests, he is an HGCA board director and non-executive director of Wessex Grain.

The voting system has changed this year, with votes weighted to reflect NFU membership in specific counties.