National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

23 September 2021

As one of the biggest industry changes to any sector in the UK is rolled out, young farmers will have the opportunity to discuss the impact on the next generation of farmers at an online event during National Young Farmers’ Week (25-29 October) and just a few days before COP26.

The online debate called Ready for Change? is hosted by The National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (NFYFC) and supported by Defra and NatWest. It will be hosted on 27 October at 7.00pm and involves leading industry experts who will be able to answer key questions from young farmers on the future of agriculture. The panel includes Janet Hughes, the director of Defra’s Future Farming and Countryside Programme; Andrew Meredith, Farmers Weekly editor; Roddy McLean, NatWest’s director of agriculture; and young farmer and business consultant Sammy Allen.

The debate, which is NFYFC’s annual AGRI Forum, will be chaired by agronomist, Somerset young farmer and YFC AGRI Chair Tom Pope, and is open to all to join over Zoom.

Key topics under discussion will be:

Views from the next generation about their future and the challenges and opportunities in farming and land management

Discussion about Defra’s plans for a New Entrants Scheme and future support

Next generation and YFC resilience and wellbeing

Next generation views on climate change and the part they can play in helping to reach net zero whilst maintaining healthy businesses.

The event will also be an opportunity for YFC AGRI to highlight the diverse work of consultation responses, events, research, online discussion and co-design that the group has been working on throughout the year.

YFC AGRI Chair Tom Pope said:

“As next generation farmers, land managers, rural dwellers or a future workforce in the making, we will play one of the biggest parts in sustainability, so this debate is vital for seeking answers and sharing views on the changes ahead.

“YFC AGRI has tackled many topics over the past year including isolation, heathier minds and attitudes, climate change and future business skills.  The big question now is how are we all coping with change?

“We have to collaborate as an industry to make sure that we can achieve but also survive, so I’m delighted that all our forum guests accepted the invitation to talk, share views but also answer questions that many of you will be keen to ask.”

During the recent changes, NFYFC has represented YFC members’ views to Defra through its YFC AGRI group by providing consultation responses, research findings and recorded conversations with the membership. NFYFC is now eager to see if the emerging schemes will achieve the ambitions for food production, the environment and rural sustainability.

NatWest’s director of agriculture, Roddy McLean said:

“NatWest is delighted to support NFYFC ‘s National Young Farmers’ Week again this year and I’m pleased to take this opportunity to debate the effect of change and the opportunities this could  bring with young farmers and my fellow panelists.  We are all so much more aware of the importance of wellbeing across the sector, and the measures that need to be taken to counteract the stress of seismic policy changes.

“Tackling climate change is one of the biggest challenges of our time and is central to NatWest Group’s strategy. We have taken great strides as a bank already – our own operations are net zero and we have done a lot to de-risk our balance sheet – but there is more to do, whether through green finance and innovation, the shift to zero emission vehicles, or helping our customers make their buildings and operations greener. We look forward to continuing to work closely with the NFYFC to help the agricultural sector with the transition.”

YFC members and next generation farmers can register for their place at the AGRI Forum using the following link and all are welcome to join this free event on 27 October 2021, which is during NFYFC’s National Young Farmers’ Week. 

Biographies of the panellists

Janet Hughes

Janet is Programme Director for Defra’s Future Farming and Countryside Programme – the team that’s responsible for transforming the way we support and regulate farming and the countryside in England. Over the next seven years, the programme will be closing down existing schemes and rules and replacing them with Environmental Land Management, grant support, innovation, R&D support and a new approach to regulation and enforcement. Janet’s job is to make sure the programme delivers all this successfully and in a way that works for farmers and achieves the intended outcomes.

Andrew Meredith

Andrew has been Farmers Weekly editor since January 2021 after first doing stints on the business and arable desks. Before joining the team, he studied agriculture at Aberystwyth University and then worked on his family’s upland beef and sheep farm in mid Wales as well as at Welshpool Livestock Market as a drover.  

Roddy McLean BSc(Agr) Hons, FRAgS

Roddy is the director of agriculture at NatWest and is responsible for ensuring the bank’s policy towards agriculture continues to be fit for purpose, supporting the Bank’s 125 relationship managers, keeping them informed on current farming issues and providing advice on more complex agricultural lending propositions. As well as representing the Bank on public platforms. 

Tom Pope

Tom is a Reading University agriculture graduate and an agronomist by profession. The current NFYFC Agriculture and Rural Issues (AGRI) chairman, he is also a former Somerset FYFC county chairman and plays an active part in his family’s Somerset arable farm.

Tom has been inspired by his fellow Somerset YFC members. He has made the most his YFC office holder experience and industry opportunities for personal and professional development whilst helping support the next generation of young farmers.

Sammy Allen

Sammy graduated from Harper Adams University with a degree in agriculture and is currently a trainee farm business consultant as well as playing an active part in her family’s mixed Nottinghamshire farm comprising pigs, sheep and arable enterprises.

She is the current NFYFC AGRI vice chairwoman and aspires to help farming businesses become more robust and sustainable for the future.

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