National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

26 July 2010

Persistence and determination to hone their knowledge certainly paid off for winners of this year’s prestigious National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs Farm Business Development competition.
Carlisle YFC’s winning team of accountant Michael Nelson and agricultural graduate Stephen Powley were presented with their award at the weekend’s CLA Game Fair in Warwickshire.

The winning duo not only took away their first prize of a scholarship to next year’s Oxford Farming Conference, but also the confidence and professional skills and knowledge to set up their own agricultural enterprise having upped their business acumen by entering the competition for three years in a row.

Michael and Stephen credited their success to drawing heavily on the feedback from the panel of judges in the competition in each successive attempt and using guidance offered by judges from Savills and the Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) to refine their business submissions and interview knowledge.

This year the team also underwent NFYFC’s tenancy training, which is delivered in partnership with Savills and TFA and which was developed to support the competition and the AgriSkills strategy’s aims for a professional farming industry.
Michael said: “We are delighted to have won. The NFYFC competition really prepares you for the reality of tendering for a farm tenancy; the extremely high standard of research and business knowledge required for a successful proposal; as well as what a landlord and land agent are going to be looking for from your business plan.

“Winning made us realise we do have the skills needed to run a successful enterprise and that we work well as a team. We have come away confident to take on a farm tenancy, and we are definitely going to go into business together as a result.”

NFYFC’s Farm Business Development competition is designed to give tomorrow’s tenants a dry run in applying for a farm tenancy which includes viewing a case study farm, submitting a detailed business plan and facing a rigorous interview panel. This year’s panel was made up of judges from Lloyds TSB, Savills and the TFA, as well as last year’s competition winners Jack Hopkins and Nicola Hamer.

NFYFC’s agriculture and rural affairs officer Sarah Palmer said: “The competition is realistic and testing so that would-be tenants are well-practised when it comes to a real application. Young farmers know they face considerable competition from established farmers and need to be at the top of their game to be successful. NFYFC is pleased to be working with industry partners and Defra to deliver comprehensive training and a realistic competition to help secure future farming opportunities.”

Sponsor and judge George Dunn, the TFA’s chief executive, said: “The market in agricultural tenancies is fiercely competitive. Those who already have a farming base and are looking to expand will inevitably have a head start on new entrants. New entrants therefore need to be sharper, keener and better prepared than the competition. There is no better way to get ready for the challenge than to take part in this competition and the associated NFYFC tenancy training days. It has been pleasing to see the year-on-year improvement in the standard of competition entry.”

Head of Savills UK Professional Services Clive Beer commented: “Savills is delighted to be involved in the competition by providing a case study farm and helping competitors understand the landlord and agent’s perspective. The NFYFC competition and training is a well-rounded and necessary exercise for would-be tenants. Working with NFYFC and the TFA we can advise on the pitfalls and necessary skills to help today’s young farmers be the successful tenants of the future.”

Pictured left, Pembrokeshire's Peter Richards and Andrew Rees (2nd place) and East Riding YFC's Luke Jenneson and David Davenport (3rd) were presented with NFYFC awards by TFA chairman Greg Bliss.


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