THERE IS a four-way competition for the two vacant vice-presidential roles at the National Farmers Union of Scotland – and for the first time ever, ongoing Covid-19 restrictions oblige the candidates to make their case for election via virtual meetings.

Traditionally, NFU Scotland’s election process would involve officeholder candidates touring every part of Scotland, with all regions holding their own member event. But in these exceptional circumstances, the hustings events will now take place online, starting on Friday, January 22, with members urged to register to hear from each of the candidates.

The four nominations for the two vice presidential posts are (in alphabetical order):

• Andrew Connon, of North Quilquox, Ythanbank, Ellon, Aberdeenshire;

• Willie Harper, of Gryffewraes, Bridge of Weir, Renfrewshire;

• George Milne, of Kinaldy, St Andrews, Fife;

• Robin Traquair, of Wellington Farm, Millerhill, Dalkeith, Midlothian.

All four will take part in virtual member meetings scheduled for:

• Friday, January 22 (12:00 - 13:30pm) at web address

• Tuesday, January 26 (19:00 – 20:30pm) at web address

• Thursday, January 28 (19:00 – 20:30pm) at web address

Current vice president Martin Kennedy, who will stand unchallenged for the position of president, will also take part in these events. Biographies for all five candidates are available on the union’s website at:

The elections will take place at the union’s virtual council meeting on Friday February 12, with online voting arrangements for council members in place.

Commenting on the prospect of an exciting, if very different election campaign, NFU Scotland chief executive scott Walker said: “It is hugely encouraging for the future of NFUS and the sign of a healthy and vibrant union that we have so many excellent candidates standing for election. Five people have put the interests of the industry ahead of the interests of their own businesses and are standing for the positions of president or vice president.

“I wish each one of them the very best and, while missing out on the traditional tour of Scotland, I urge them to make the most of these online meetings. They all have the skills and experience to do a great job for NFUS and this is their opportunity to convince members that they are the person to occupy one of the top positions in the union as we tackle the major challenges ahead," said Mr Walker.

“Our industry is entering a new era and we need the right people in place to drive forward policies that are in the very best interests of our farmers and crofters. Members will have the chance to hear from our candidates as they take part in these three virtual events. The decision the membership must make is who should lead this union for the next 24 months as we negotiate one of the biggest periods of change faced by the industry in the union’s 108-year history.”