National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

28 July 2010

Agriculture & rural affairs committee chairwoman Katherine Sealy reports back from this year’s Prince of Wales Food and Farming Summer School, where she joined a select group of industry experts for talks and discussions centred on the true cost of food and the future of the industry.

“This was no ordinary summer school! Where else, other than at this summer school at Cirencester’s Royal Agricultural College and the Duchy Home Farm, would you find yourself amongst a group of 30 people including a Defra director; senior horticultural research scientist; professors from food policy, soil science, wetlands and water science, agriculture and land use backgrounds; farm managers and supermarket directors?

“We listened to papers delivered by experts on agricultural production techniques and how the pressure of climate change and resource protection will affect future production and diets. We learned how science is shaping future crop varieties and how weather patterns will change, influencing what is grown and where it is grown. We visited the Duchy Home Farm, near Tetbury, on a farm walk; got soaked on the trailer excursion and toured Shipton Mill to learn about traditional milling techniques.
“Professor Tim Lang suggested that agriculture is caught in a dilemma: should it pursue the ethological and environmental route or the biotechnological route? We learned about the influences on food dynamics and distribution and the concept of “embedded water”, which is how much water is used in the production, packaging and transport of a product. It was proposed that our diets as consumers are going to have to be more sustainable; otherwise all the good from sustainable methods introduced into the supply chain could be undone by consumers.

“Future water management decisions are going to change the shape of the countryside as more farmers are encouraged to link their growing decisions with available water resources. It was suggested that this could mean water prioritisation, rainwater harvesting techniques and mechanisms introduced to reward or compensate farmers for safeguarding water. We heard how previous water mismanagement decisions will have to be rectified and how farmers will be encouraged to get “more crop per drop”.
“The concept of food miles was challenged by Professor Gareth Edwards Jones, who suggested that it was an unreliable concept due to emissions from transporting the food from where it is produced to where it is sold. He proposed that it is philosophically impossible for local food to always be best, since our actions as consumers - how we transport and prepare (and waste) the produce - can undo all the good from the concept of local food.

“We learned that 70,000 premature deaths would be prevented if we ate our five-a-day fruit and vegetable servings and recommended levels of salt, sugar and fat. In contrast, one billion people go to bed hungry. The Government’s Food 2030 challenge recognises that demands for more food can be met, but not by the “business as usual” approach. It will take a combination of agronomy, genetics and ecology, to double production yields in the future; as plant breeding alone will not suffice.

“We were invited to Highgrove for a gala dinner with our host HRH Prince Charles, who was interested to hear our experiences and discussions over the three days. I was lucky to sit on the top table next to Alex James, the former Blur band member who is now an organic farmer and cheese maker in the Cotswolds, and the Bishop of Liverpool, who spoke after dinner.

“The summer school closed with an open discussion involving Prince Charles which concluded that knowledge transfer and information exchange are going to be key methods of informing the farming communities and food producers of the future.

“Agriculture is at the centre of society’s most important debates on the future; and influences, or is influenced by, soil, water, carbon, people, science, waste and health. The challenge is to remain in control of our destiny, and positively influence and manage our future by taking responsibility now.”


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.

19 July 2010

Why not come along to this year's CLA Game Fair on Saturday 24 July and support your fellow YFC members.

Winners of NFYFC's prestigious Farm Business Development Competition will be receiving the results and awards from judges at 3pm in the Game Fair Theatre followed by Have Your Say, a platform for 18-25-year-olds to air their passions on countryside and sports issues. NFYFC will be represented by agriculture and rural affairs committee vice chairwoman Milly Wastie.

Those of you who missed the NFYFC Exploring the Campaign for the Environment (CFE) day can take part in the CFE Trail and find out how to participate in the initiative at stand (J789,) where local co-ordinators, farmer chairmen from county groups and representatives from the campaign partnership will be on hand to answer questions.

NFYFC's agriculture and rural affairs committee chairwoman Katherine Sealy will be taking part in the debate on the subject: Thiriving or theme park - the countryside in 2060?
The event is on at Ragley Hall, Warwickshire, and you can find out more about what's on at

19 July 2010

A delegation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (YFC) members met Defra Agriculture Minister James Paice earlier this month to discuss concerns and issues facing new entrants and young people living and working in rural areas.

While it was acknowledged that young farmers embraced the opportunities to gain additional skills and training which was demonstrated through YFC activities and allegiance to Government and industry initiatives, there was a request for Government to help accommodate expectation.

Genuine young new entrants are not competing with established farmers on a level playing field and look to future CAP reform and rural policy as a means of redressing the imbalance.
Chairwoman of the NFYFC Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee Katherine Sealy  said: “We appreciate our opportunity to speak with the minister, who has continued his practice of regular dialogue with YFC members now he is in office. It is a relationship we value.

“The YFC delegation represented the hopes and enthusiasm of current and future young farmers who want to be part of a vibrant and successful industry, but also want support to acknowledge the reality we are faced with both living and working in a rural environment.”

14 July 2010

Young farmers are being priced out of living in the countryside due to a chronic shortage of affordable homes.

House prices in rural England have more than doubled during the past decade to average £256,698, while the average salary for people working in the countryside has risen to just £21,000.

The National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs, the National Housing Federation, and the National Farmers Union are warning that people in rural areas have little hope of being able to afford a property where they live and this poses a threat to traditional rural life.
A poll for the National Housing Federation found that 65% of people living in rural areas thought local families and young people were being priced out by the high cost of property.
A further 63% thought there was a shortage of affordable homes for local people in their village, with 70% saying they would support plans to build a small number of affordable properties for local people in their area.

More than a third of people in rural communities thought village shops, post offices and pubs had declined during the past five years, while a third thought second home owners had a negative impact on community life. One in five people also thought the number of second homes in their community had increased during the past five years.
The number of people on waiting lists for affordable housing in England has soared to 750,000, and nearly 100,000 new affordable homes need to be built in rural areas over the next decade to meet demand.

The groups are calling on local housing authorities to draw up action plans to address the housing needs of people in their communities to ensure villages remain sustainable.
NFYFC’s Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee chairwoman Katherine Sealy said: “With average house prices now over £250,000, young people like me can’t afford to live in villages.

"Without young, dynamic and enthusiastic staff and customers, local shops and services will be forced to close and we must not just sit and watch as communities suffer as a result.

"The affordable housing issue has to be addressed to ensure the future sustainability of rural areas and jobs.”
NFYFC's ARAC Forum called for rural housing to top the government agenda at the organisation's annual convention in Torquay in April.

07 July 2010

The NFYFC tug of war competitions will be among the attractions at this year’s Royal County of Berkshire Show.

The finals will take place in the main arena on the second day of the two-day show on 18-19 September.

This is a new venue for the competition and a host of other attractions are on offer during the weekend.

The White Helmets Motorcycle Display Team will be putting on amazing display which includes 21 soldiers from the Royal Corps of Signals in a pyramid formation on top of six motorbikes. They also jump through hoops of fire, over cars and perform death-defying crossover rides.

The Band and Bugles of the Rifles will be entertaining the audience with their inspiring military music. They are the only military regiment who march ‘at the double’ past the Queen, at an extraordinarily fast 140 paces a minute. The Buglers are operational soldiers, some of whom have recently returned from Afghanistan.

There’s plenty more to enjoy – including the Wicker Man, countryside area, Food Fare marquee, horticultural area and 600 shops.

Tickets are now on sale and you can save up to 20 per cent off the normal ticket price by buying in advance at or telephone the box office on 01635 247155.

The 2010 Show will be heralded as ‘the year of the pig’ and there’s a new championship class, alongside the extensive annual line-up of cattle, sheep, poultry, goats and camelids classes.



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