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Coronavirus: Ulster Farmers' Union set to select its new president at 'truly novel' drive-in meeting

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Ulster Farmers’ Union chief executive Wesley Aston. (PA)

Ulster Farmers’ Union chief executive Wesley Aston. (PA)

Ulster Farmers’ Union chief executive Wesley Aston. (PA)

The Ulster Farmers' Union (UFU) is proposing to hold a drive-in annual general meeting to select its next president.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, UFU chief executive, Wesley Aston, described it as a "truly novel" but pragmatic approach under the present circumstances regarding the need to have a new president approved by the membership.

Mr Aston said: "Given that drive-in churches, cinemas and restaurants can all now take place, we hope that the NI Executive will permit us to hold an AGM that is as close to normal as possible while protecting the safety of both our members and staff. A first - and hopefully a last - it will allow us to ensure that we have a president at the helm of the organisation."

The AGM should have taken place in April, but was delayed for three months because of coronavirus.

The president and two deputies remained in post during this period.

However, with key issues facing the UFU, including Brexit, the Agriculture Bill at Westminster and likely changes to the food market in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, the UFU says it is essential to have a new president in place.

"Our AGM plays a key role in the organisation. This is not just about electing a new president," said Mr Aston.

"It is an opportunity for the membership to publicly thank the outgoing president. Ivor Ferguson has had a very tough two-year term, already extended by three months. This needs to be recognised.

"The approach we have chosen is about that recognition, but also allowing the nominated president, Victor Chestnutt, the platform to set out his plans for the critical period ahead. Our unique drive-in meeting will achieve that and after it, we will be ready for the huge future challenges," he said.

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