National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

12 February 2014

Young farmers are concerned about low incomes and an inability to save for the future, according to initial findings by The National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (NFYFC) and The Farming Community Network (FCN).

The survey results mark the launch of a new NFYFC campaign, called Rural+, aimed at highlighting the unique challenges faced by young people living in rural areas in the UK.

The survey asked young people with a farming background about their hopes for the future and, among the major concerns highlighted, were the limited opportunities for them to start farming (32%) and the lack of rural housing (55%).

In addition to rural challenges, young farmers also share the same concerns felt by young people more generally – such as low self esteem and concerns about body image (47% and 45% respectively). The majority of respondents were aged between 16 and 25 years old.

The survey also revealed young farmers were concerned about:
•    Poor returns from farming (58%)
•    Animal diseases such as bTB, Schmallenberg virus (59%)    
•    Uncertainty of future farming profitability (54%)
•    Limited rural employment opportunities (41%)
•    Lack of capital/availability of finance (41%) and high land rents (45%)
•    Low income (50%) and inability to save (45%).

The Rural+ campaign is the brainchild of new NFYFC Chairman Claire Worden, who wants to raise awareness of rural isolation, and to show the support Young Farmers’ Clubs (YFC) can offer. Reassuringly, the survey revealed that 47% of respondents would speak to their YFC if they had a practical problem – and 77% would also speak to a family member or friend.

Working with The Farming Community Network and YoungMinds, NFYFC will be providing resources and guides for members who need help. TAMA, world leader in the manufacture of crop packaging products, is backing the NFYFC campaign by sponsoring materials for clubs and counties to use.

Claire Worden, NFYFC’s National Chairman of Council, said: “Our initial research into this vast area only proves that more work is needed to find out the true extent of the issues affecting young people who live in rural areas. I grew up in a very remote rural location in Cornwall but I was lucky because I joined a Young Farmers’ Club, which gave me access to a social life, support and friendship.

“NFYFC would like to develop more in-depth research into the issues affecting the mental health of young people living in rural areas so that we and other organisations can offer more support.”

Responses to the survey also indicated that succession planning and continuing the family business were also a cause for concern for young people. Only 9% of respondents had agreed a succession plan for their family business.

Charles Smith, Chief Executive of The Farming Community Network, said: “The survey highlighted some very real and considerable concerns faced by our rural young people. Whilst 50% of respondents saw themselves remaining in a farming related career, the majority felt that there were considerable obstacles to them becoming farmers in their own right. Sadly, the survey also confirmed that few families are openly discussing succession and the future of their family farms. Together with the difficulties many are facing with family relationships and a lack of self-esteem, possibly the result of a lack of clarity over their futures, there is much to be done to support our young farmers.

“FCN is delighted to be working alongside the NFYFC to better support their membership and to be there as and when they need practical or pastoral help from our volunteer network.”  

For more information about NFYFC’s Rural+ campaign click here

10 February 2014

The first NFYFC Council meeting of 2014 proved to be an emotional one – with tensions running high over funding issues, tearful support for the new Rural+ campaign and compassion on show for members in the Somerset floods.

NFYFC’s new Chairman of Council Claire Worden chaired her first meeting and was faced with some difficult funding issues to discuss.

Here are the highlights from the meeting:     

  • After an overview of the figures and much debate, Council proposed a 20% increase to the national levy (membership subscripton). (see story)
  • James Eckley was announced as NFYFC’s new Chief Officer
  • A new NFYFC staff team structure has been confirmed
  • Robert Williams, Herefordshire, David Gwatkins - Agricultural Chaplain and Heather Coar were co-opted on to the Personal Development Steering Group
  • The entertainments line-up for Annual Convention was confirmed (see story)
  • A new website will be launched for Annual Convention
  • Council approved for the photos from the 2013 Photography competition will be used to produce a selection of cards that will be on sale in the club shop
  • The following was announced about competitions in 2014/15:
    • Pop Video will now be Pop Dancing
    • Mixed Kwik Cricket 10 - 16 & under
    • Mixed Dodgeball 17 – 26 & under
    • Cross Country Individual & Team of 4 – 2x U26, 1x U21, 1x U16, includes a minimum of 1 male or 1 female
    • A darts competition will be held at Annual Convention.
  • The Cube Exhibit will be held at Tenbury Show
  • ARAC has changed its name to AGRI – Agricultural and Rural Issues Steering Group and will use hashtag #yfcagri
  • Lynsey Martin was elected as Vice Chairman of the AGRI Steerng Group
  • AGRI agreed its aims for 2014 would include improving links with County AGRI reps, empowering members to speak out on agricultural issues affecting them and to focus on topical issues, such as flooding.
  • Council members donated more than £400 to support the Somerset floods after Somerset YFC Chairman Joy Davenport explained how bad the situation was in the area. (see story).

For all the top line information from Council, please click here to see the report. You will need your login information. 

10 February 2014

The NFYFC Council has proposed a 20% increase in the subscription fee that members pay to be part of the national federation.

The decision was made at the first Council meeting of the year, where representatives from counties across England and Wales discussed the Federation’s finances and how it could continue to deliver the full range of services members wanted.

The level of services delivered by NFYFC currently far outweighs the money covered by the national subscription – known as the levy – and the Federation is therefore over reliant on other non-guaranteed funding sources.

Currently the total income from members, which includes the subscription, money made from Annual Convention and other events, equates to 41% of the Federation’s running costs. Another 27% of running costs is secured through grants and commercial sponsorship, which leaves a gap in funding of 32%.

This gap is partly due to changes to the HOPs Labour Solutions business that is wholly owned by NFYFC.  As a former operator of the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme (SAWs), which the Government ended on 31 December 2013, HOPS has redeveloped its business. During this period of transition, NFYFC is unable to guarantee the same level of funding from its commercial arm.

All Council members were given a detailed set of accounts and tasked with suggesting ways to increase income to the Federation or cut costs. One option proposed at the meeting was to increase the levy by 20% - for both members and associates – for the membership year 2014/15. But other funding will also need to be sought.

The levy was last billed in September 2013 and cost £11.36 per member. The levy is a set figure of £220,900, which is divided between each member of the organisation. Depending on the number of members, the individual cost of the levy to each member can go up or down (eg, if NFYFC’s membership numbers doubled from the existing total, the cost of the levy would only be £5.68 per member). 

Council representatives have returned to their counties to discuss the finances with them ahead of the Annual General Meeting in May, where members will be asked to vote on the proposed levy increase.

For the last two years members have voted against an increase in the national levy but National Chairman of Council Claire Worden hopes that members will pull together this time to save some of NFYFC’s treasured services.

“It’s a difficult situation and as a Council we are faced with some tough decisions to make. No one likes increasing the levy but we have to take action so the Federation can keep delivering the services we love – such as the range of competitions currently offered.

“Due to the way the levy has been set, I know it’s not easy to get your head around but we have tried to deliver a really clear breakdown for Council members to discuss with counties. We know that the increase will affect certain counties more than others due to the way they set their own subscription fees. I want to work together with counties on this though so we can move forward as a united Federation.”

For more information about the proposed national levy increase please contact James Eckley.

For a round up of decisions made at Council, click here.

10 February 2014

Young Farmers’ Clubs are supporting farmers affected by the worst floods on record by organising supplies and raising funds.

As Somerset was one of the areas hit most severely by the floods, members of Somerset Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs (FYFC) have been supporting the local farming community.

When the waters started to rise again towards the end of last week, members gathered together to fill 750 sandbags.  They also used their tractors and trailers to help move cattle from former YFC member James Winslade’s farm, which was flooding.

Many houses are deep in water and as families were forced to evacuate in the early hours of the morning many of them only have the clothes they left in. 

Joy Davenport, Vice Chairman for Somerset FYFC (pictured with NFYFC Chairman Claire Worden), said: “It’s not just haylage and fodder we need; it’s also clothes as well as food for the people that are helping out. People are asking for the basics such as towels and socks for those people who can’t reach their homes due to the water.”

Somerset County office is still accessible via one of the routes and they are trying to keep members updated via the website. Joy said there are lots of ways Young Farmers can help. 

“We’re just asking YFC members to get behind us by even doing something as small as putting a post on Facebook to help us get our message out there. Some people have their houses 6ft under water and the bottom of their house has completely gone, their possessions and everything. So even if people can donate a pair of socks that’s amazing and will be appreciated."

Joy was able to share the problems in Somerset at the recent NFYFC Council meeting and was overwhelmed by the support from clubs across England and Wales – including the offer of forage from Essex FYFC.

“It’s absolutely fantastic. When I started talking at the Council meeting, I could feel myself welling up. Just to have support from fellow Young Farmers is amazing.”


Before sending any aid to help flooded farms, it's best to coordinate your efforts with people on the ground in flooded areas. You can find lots of information on doing this on the NFU website in their floodng information.

#ForageAid and #ClubHectare are supporting farmers in the Somerset levels with much needed straw, animal feed and baled forage crops, as well as urgently needed supplies such as clothing, wellington boots, waterproofs, fuel donations and a multitude of other donations they have received including financial support.

The distribution team in Somerset Jono Dixon (who is the #ClubHectare boss) and Johann Tasker (from Farmers Weekly and a #ClubHectare member) as well as #ForageAid coordinator Andrew Ward in Lincolnshire are desperately asking for wheat, barley, triticale or oat straw to be donated to the cause in Somerset via #ForageAid.

They would like more than 30 trailer loads of straw. Tom Ward from Brightcrop and a member of #ForageAid and #ClubHectare said: "Whilst we understand and don't expect that all to come from one supplier, any donated loads would be greatly appreciated as the agricultural community is pulling together to help these farmers out as they have lost everything, thousands of cattle, sheep, goats, horses etc have been moved to dryer locations but need bedding and feeding."

If you are able to donate but not haul aswell, #ForageAid can arrange haulage or Tesco curtain siders to collect from your location. You can contact Andrew Ward on 07850 132 189 or Jono Dixon on  07850 927 587. 

NFYFC have collected more than £400 to support the relief effort in Somerset so far. If you would like to make a donation to support the Somerset Emergency Relief Fund, please click here

10 February 2014

Five BBC Radio 1 DJs will play at Annual Convention 2014 in Blackpool, and the weekend is set to be the biggest YFC event in the last 10 years.

DJs Scott Mills and Chris Stark will play the Sunday night of Annual Convention, when members will be dressed in club shirts. Jameela  Jamil is back by popular demand and will entertain thousands of Young Farmers on Friday night in the Winter Gardens, while Edith Bowman and Aled Haydn Jones will welcome the crowds on Saturday night to see members dressed as something beginning with Y,F or C.

Three bands will also be on stage over the weekend, including three piece pop/rock band Boomin, five piece party band the Tzars and on Saturday night a Queen tribute act will perform, as voted for by members in an online poll.

The entertainment for the weekend was announced during the first Council meeting of the year in Coventry.  NFYFC tweeted live updates throughout the meeting using the hashtag #yfccouncil and the news was re-tweeted by followers more than 200 times.

When NFYFC asked if the DJs were excited about their sets, Chris Stark and Aled Haydn Jones tweeted back:

@Chris_Stark "@NFYFC it's going to be so much fun!!!"

@ahj (Aled Haydn Jones) "@NFYFC CANNOT wait! #BestNightOfMyYear"

The new line up was met with excitement from members following announcements on Twitter.

  • Rachael Garner @RachaelGarner10 #yfcagm line up is sooo good! well done @NFYFC!
  • SallyBelfield @sallybelfield Missing @scott_mills and @Chris_Stark for a Monday exam on the #yfcagm is probably the worst thing ever :( #sogutted
  • Susan Pattinson @Sue_Patt The fact that @scott_mills and @Chris_Stark are gonna be at the AGM is amazingggggg!!! #excited #yfcagm #blackpool
  • Chloe Wasden @ChloeWasden Seeing the lineup for the yfc AGM I am very excited to be giving my deposit in next weekend #yfcagm #blackpool
  • Daniel Cook @cookyd92 @Chris_Stark can't wait for @NFYFC #AGM to see you and @scott_mills

Suggestions for the acts that are chosen for the Annual Convention are made by the members who sit on the Communications, Events and Marketing (CEM) Steering Group.

A new Annual Convention website is also launching soon, which will be packed with information about the biggest event in the YFC calendar.

Ticket deadline for booking weekend packages is 14 March. For ticket information, click here.

03 February 2014

The NFYFC Youth Forum has elected Welsh member Sioned Davies as its first Chairman to lead the Steering Group.
Sioned, from Edw Valley YFC, was elected into the position during a meeting at the Youth Forum Residential 2014 weekend in Herefordshire. The Steering Group also elected two Vice Chairmen to work with Sioned – Danielle McNulty, from Painswick YFC and Helen Brown from Carlisle YFC.
Sioned, who was the Welsh Youth Forum Chairman, was delighted to take on the national role and tweeted after the meeting: “Thanks for a really great weekend! Some very exciting suggestions for consideration at Council next weekend!”
Speaking during the weekend, Sioned explained the importance of the group: “Often the views of the younger members are overlooked or not taken seriously. It’s nice that the Youth Forum is given a formal platform to influence the decisions of Council.”
The Youth Forum, which was formed in 2010 to represent the views of members under the age of 18, was officially made into a Steering Group last year. The new status gives members of the group the opportunity to attend Council meetings and ensures its views are formally considered by the four other steering groups and Council members.
The meeting, which was also attended by new sponsors AGCO Parts, was part of a weekend of activities in Herefordshire. Nine members of the Youth Forum took part in clay pigeon shooting and quad biking at Oaker Wood Leisure on the weekend break.
Tom Collison, 18 from Norfolk, is one of the founding members of the Youth Forum and said the group was really pleased to have the support of AGCO.
“AGCO Parts is part of one of the biggest farming companies in the world and it’s really good to have them on board helping out the Youth Forum and young farmers in general.
The Youth Forum is made up of the winners of the Junior Member of the Year and a representative from each Area. Members have a place on the Forum for two years.
For more information about the Youth Forum contact Youthwork Officer Cath Sykes or click here.


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