‘BUY British and boost the rural economy’ is the message from a Dorset farmer who is standing to be the next vice president of the NFU.

Robert Lasseter, who farms at Friar Waddon near Weymouth, has been nominated for the position and results will be decided in an election later this month.

Mr Lasseter, who is the former NFU county chairman, said it is a ‘long time’ since anyone from Dorset has stood for this particular position.

He said: “It is an exciting time.

“The NFU has brilliant staff and all the detailed information they provide is fantastic.

“But what sets the NFU apart from other trade unions is that the policy is driven by farmers.

“When you are talking to the secretary of state, you have credibility because farming is your day job.

“It’s a great combination.”

Mr Lasseter has been travelling around the country with the other nominees talking to farmers and answering their questions.

He said: “It was a really terrific experience.

“Actually I was expecting it to be quite brutal because you can be asked anything at all and you are on the spot.

“But I just aimed to answer as many questions as possible and I thoroughly enjoyed it.”

Encouraging more people to buy British produce and demonstrating to taxpayers the importance of putting money into the countryside are top of Mr Lasseter’s agenda. He said: “Farmers have a great reputation for acting when something happens, be it the flooding on the Somerset Levels, or the Schmallenberg virus.

“But I think the role of the NFU is much wider than that. It’s about helping people to produce more, and consume more food that is grown in this country.

“We have to convince the public that buying British is good for the economy.”

He added: “Another important area is to show taxpayers why it’s worth putting money into agriculture. It helps to create a short, transparent supply chain.

“The countryside has a lot to offer the economy.”

The elections will take place at the NFU AGM on Wednesday, February 26.

• NFU nominations...

President: Adam Quinney, Meurig Raymond
Deputy president: Minette Batters, Thomas Binns, David Brookes, Rosey Dunn, Adam Quinney Vice president: Minette Batters, Thomas Binns, Jonathan Brant, David Brookes, Rosey Dunn, Robert Lasseter, Guy Smith