National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

30 June 2021

A fresh approach of collaborative support for skills and establishing sustainable businesses were highlighted by young farmers in discussion with conservation farming experts at a YFC AGRI event at the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust’s (GWCT) Allerton Project Farm.

Regional YFC AGRI representatives provided input for a future guide and made the most of sharing their farming and land management experience whilst considering future business viability and skills needed. The event was part of a Defra-supported NFYFC business skills project for young farmers and also involved a tour of the Allerton Project.  

In a discussion that explored ways to help new entrants and next generation farmers deliver sustainability, the group agreed that clear food labelling showing environmental impact will be part of the necessary marketing tools for consumer awareness. They also agreed there was a need for a practical, realistic approach to the effects of seismic policy change and trade deals.

“We know we’ll need additional skills for future farming and to adapt our business plans and practice, but the thorny issue of competing in a high-risk sector without an established trading track record, or the necessary capital needed for the longevity of land-based businesses, isn’t going away just because policy changes,” said Tom Pope, YFC AGRI Chair.

“Next generation farmers have a positive and realistic approach to emerging and future trade deals, but we need clear labelling so that consumers can make an informed decision about purchasing,” added Tom. “We also need a uniform tool for carbon calculation and final policy details to ensure that we can plan efficiently. We need to ensure that the public understands our standards of production and environmental considerations in future policy and land management practices.  If the UK is going to make a global stand on tackling sustainability, we support the challenge ahead but need to have the necessary support, incentive and tools to do this.”

The group of regional young farmers benefitted from rigorous questions, considerations and a practical demonstration of conservation farming with GWCT’s Phil Jarvis and Joe Stanley.

Tom said: “Despite the challenges ahead, we are optimistic and determined for our business plans to succeed, happy to work with Defra and industry, but we’re also interested to pursue innovative models of private and public support. We’re proud that we produce food and look after the environment while taking an holistic approach to sustainability, so we need a common sense and workable plan for young people to be attracted to, and survive, in current and future land-based businesses.

“Our YFC AGRI group meets regularly to discuss a range of farming and rural issues so we can feedback accurately to Defra and industry, and Saturday’s event continues to highlight the issue of financial and business viability, as well as the many possibilities for adapting our businesses for future policy change. It also highlighted some of the misconceptions and lack of understanding by policy makers of the practicalities needed to ensure that land-based businesses are both financially and environmentally viable. We want to be part of the solution for future sustainability, but also need to be listened to so that we can be an active part in finding practical solutions.”

Joe Stanley, Head of Training and Partnerships at the Allerton Project: “It’s always a pleasure to speak to the next generation of farmers, and I’m continually humbled by the passion and can-do attitude they display.

“Here at GWCT Allerton we strive to demonstrate the resilience that agri-environment projects can contribute to productive farm businesses, and these will be an increasingly important strand of future income. But as these NFYFC members highlighted, it’s incumbent on government to demonstrate its commitment to our young farmers by taking their input onboard and collaborating to present a compelling vision for the next generation.”


 


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