24 February 2014
Members joined European young farmers in Helsinki in February to outline issues that policy holders need to address to support the future of young farming.
Chris Manley, Culm Valley YFC, Catherine Bennett from Vyrnwy Valley YFC in Montgomeryshire and Elli Downing from Silsoe YFC contributed their ideas to the Helsinki Declaration which calls for bringing down the average age of farmers in Europe by investing in the next generation.
The Helsinki Declaration also calls for financial support and prioritised access to capital with preferential lending, advisory services for business, marketing, financial and succession support and education and training relevant to the sector.
The CEJA Spring Parliament also held a panel discussion including senior European stakeholders, including Mario Milouchev, Director General for Rural Development Programmes at the European Commission and Finnish Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Kari Valonen.
Chris said: “With NFYFC’s push to get Young Farmers’ views heard it is great that we are now starting to have a big part to play in working together with other European Young Farmers to learn from what they are doing to raise their profile.”
“The seminar was an excellent opportunity to showcase to other European countries the excellent work NFYFC does and to meet new people from other countries in Europe and share knowledge to help develop CEJA,” added Catherine.
Elli said: “I was incredibly impressed with not only how welcome we were made to feel, but how encouraging it was to see such passionate and thriving individuals willing to fight for the continual progress of young farmers.”
Support from sponsors ensures members can take part in CEJA and travel to events hosted by the organisations.
HOPS Labour Solutions’ Operations Director Glyn Smith said: “HOPS Labour Solutions are proud to be supporting the next generation of farmers. It’s important that young farmers from England and Wales get the opportunity to meet their European counterparts to learn and share ideas to improve farming globally.”
The next CEJA seminar will be held in Austria in June and will debate ‘sustainable intensification’.
18 February 2014
Young Farmers’ Clubs across England and Wales have raised more than £25,000 in forage and cash donations to help flood-hit famers in Somerset and are now promising to help clean up the county when water levels drop.
Eager to support the farming community, Young Farmers have been hosting fundraising events, organising forage aid collections and offering support on the ground in Somerset.
NFYFC is working closely with Somerset Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (FYFC) and other agencies to develop a coordinated plan for any offers of help from YFCs in cleaning up the county. The Federation is also encouraging clubs to offer support to any of their local communities across England and Wales that were affected by the floods.
Clubs quickly got together to help when they heard how flooded farmers urgently needed forage, hay, straw and bedding. Somerset FYFC have helped move cattle, fill sandbags and are now actively fundraising to help their local communities as well as supporting clean up plans.
A major YFC forage aid operation in Essex, saw members taking donations from local farms and collecting around 400 tons of forage to send to Somerset.
County Vice Chairman Ed Ford’s farm in Brentwood became the collection point for the forage donations and members from across the county aged between 16 and 26 grafted to ensure lorries were loaded and sent out. Ed, who started the collection, said it was an emotional moment when he saw the donations leave his farm for Somerset.
“It has been an incredible few weeks, where the farming community has shown real generosity and support during this crisis. It has been amazing to be a part of that and Young Farmers’ Clubs have really pulled together to show our support.
“I felt very proud to see all of the lorries leave the farm on Sunday. A huge thank you to everyone who has donated or helped out.”
Essex is not the only county to get behind the crisis as clubs and counties across England and Wales have started up similar schemes. Shropshire FYFC have just delivered 110 tons of forage from over 50 farmers.
Ben Sanders, Chairman of Ludlow YFC, said: “I am pleased to see the amount of support Young Farmers' Clubs across our county have given, by providing what they can spare to the flooded farmers. I am also delighted Ludlow is part of this national effort."
NFYFC’s National Chairman of Council Claire Worden said: “It’s inspiring to see the next generation of farmers pulling together to support the industry. It is devastating to see the impact the floods have had on people’s livelihoods, especially in Somerset.
“Our clubs are uniting to show their support and we hope to help organise a national ‘clean up’ mission once the water levels have eventually receded.”
Any clubs or counties interested in helping out with the clean up mission should contact the NFYFC team. There will be more information about this to follow soon as it has to be carefully coordinated so look out on Twitter and Facebook for announcements.
If your club or county is also taking part in a fundraising activity or forage aid collections, please email the communications team.
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:
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 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
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
T: 02476 857 200
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