National Farmers' Union: Structure

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The NFU has 1000 staff based in 310 offices across England and Wales (NFU Cymru). It has close links with its ‘sister’ organisations, the NFU Scotland and the Ulster Farmers' Union. There are 450 ‘group secretaries’ based around the country who work for the NFU, and also work as agents for the NFU Mutual - backed up by specialist staff at the Mutual's regional offices and its Stratford-upon-Avon head office.

There are 160 staff members based at the NFU's London HQ building in Shaftesbury Avenue. They work in policy, services, membership and finance and administration. Each section has a Director who reports to the Director General.

Attention has been drawn to lavish expenditure at the NFU’s London premises (see, for example article "Try Telling Farmers That Spending £20 Million On An Office Is A Good Idea").14

On the European stage, members are represented by NFU staff based at the union's Brussels office, the Bureau de l'Agriculture Britannique, which it shares with NFU Scotland and the Ulster Farmers' Union.

The Council and elected officials County branches, in part, elect the ninety two (the figure varies) members of the national Council. Although the majority are still not the result of a membership election. There are 30 members of the Council from NFU Cymru. The Council members approve matters relating to policy, strategy and finance. These Council members also elect the four national 'office holders'.

The four 'office holders' are the President, currently Ben Gill on his third two-year term (See appendix 1 for a list of recent presidents); the Deputy President - Tim Bennett; the Vice President - Michael Paske, and the Treasurer. The Director-General of the NFU is appointed and is currently Richard MacDonald CBE. Welsh members are led by the President of the NFU Cymru.

Numerous HQ committees handle policy in specific areas, from milk and dairy produce, livestock and cereals to legal, taxation and technical services. Each has its own chairman who reports directly to Council and to committee members at grassroots level in the regions.

Some committees are more open about their members than others, which is reflected in the minutes made available on the member's section of the NFU website. Reading through the minutes, the same names keep cropping up on committees, and therefore its not surprising that policies on issues such as genetic engineering seem to follow the same line.

The Organic Working Group, chaired by Oliver Dowding, is possibly the only group within the NFU that has elected representatives and declared interests.

This structure will, however, be changing in the forthcoming overhaul. See 'NFU overhaul?'.

The regions themselves also have a strong committee structure, whose chairmen form the regional advisory board.


  1. ^ "Try Telling Farmers That Spending £20 Million On An Office Is A Good Idea" by Nick Mathiason The Observer, 17/12/00