How 2,900 candidates heard YOUR call

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matt ware head and shoulders picture from nfu confMatt Ware is the NFU's head of government and parliamentary affairs, based in our Westminster office.

He writes:

More from Matt...

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matt ware head and shoulders picture from nfu conf2 APR - Farming must be a priority for election hopefuls - 'With the election of the first MP for UKIP, the run-up to the General Election in May promises to deliver some interesting times ahead.'

Houses of Parliament10 Oct: Political lobbying at the heart of agriculture - 'With the election of the first MP for UKIP, the run-up to the General Election in May promises to deliver some interesting times ahead.'

George Eustice MP_600_40128 Sept: Support the growth of our British farming industry - Matt reports from our Conservative Party Conference fringe event.

NFU Fringe Event - Labour Party Conference 22 Sept22 September: 47 farming issues for the Labour Party Conference

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In Surrey MPs do it over afternoon tea, whilst in Wales they did it on bales in a sheep shed. Others do it in village halls, churches, golf clubs or the local pub. Elsewhere many stick to the tried and tested formula of doing it around the kitchen table, or else on a farm walk.

We have had the Chancellor with a calf, the Foreign Secretary with onions, a Cabinet Office minister with solar panels, the Home Secretary with designer wellies and the former Liberal Democrat President holding his on the beautiful Cumbrian fells.

Obviously I am referring to their NFU general election hustings and meetings. Lord Coe described it as one of the most formidable occasions of his MP career whilst Lord Heseltine describes it “as dealing with one of the most effective pressure groups in the UK… they are very effective at making a very direct approach to their MP”.

It’s the final run up to the election and time for parliamentary candidates of all parties to be held to account on their own, and their party’s, policies related to agriculture, food and the environment. To that end a rural army of NFU members and staff across England and Wales have held hundreds of hustings or meetings with candidates in over 90% of rural and semi-rural seats, with a staggering 2,907 parliamentary candidates having so far been contacted.

In fact, NFU hustings have become such an important occasion in many rural seats that candidates have been queuing up to be invited and those from smaller parties disappointed if not invited.

The past 18 months in the NFU government and parliamentary affairs office has been dominated by getting prepared for the General Election; but now the mantle has been passed onto the members, as voters, up and down the country.

So now with the election almost upon us, our lobbying, questioning and debating is almost over.

We just need one final push to engage with any unseen candidates and add your name to the ‘Great British Food Gets My Vote‘ campaign; and then all that remains is for everyone to make sure they vote and encourage all their friends and family to exert their hard won democrat right also, for “if you do not order from the menu, you cannot complain about the meal served up” on May 8th.

I will be sharing my insight into the results of the elections throughout the night once the polling stations close @NFUPolitical on Twitter and on NFUOnline.

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