National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

28 February 2014

NFYFC members highlighted the barriers to social participation and explained ways young farmers worked together to overcome them at a recent workshop for youth organisations.

Chair of the Personal Development Steering Group Nicola Chedwiggen Cornwall FYFC, Youth Forum Chairman Sioned Davies, Wales YFC, and Youth Forum member Ben Cavill, Cornwall FYFC, attended a free day of workshops organised by the Woodcraft Folk and NCVYS (the National Council for Voluntary Youth Services).

The day was a chance for organisations to learn from each other about ways to encourage youth participation.

Nicola said: “One of the barriers we highlighted was travel - the cost of travel and the lack of transport options in rural areas, which is a huge barrier especially if you are under 18. We explained that young farmers support each other by car sharing and driving younger members whilst abiding by the safeguarding rules, although pointed out how this can be difficult if people live quite far apart.” 
The event, which was held in London in February, was a great platform for showcasing NFYFC’s work and Nicola said they picked up lots of information from other organisations. 
“We learnt about other organisations and although we are all involved with young people, everyone had something slightly different to overcome. One common barrier was finance and funding. 

“It was evident that NFYFC has some great processes and procedures in place and offers its members a great deal of benefits and opportunities. “

During the event, NCVYS also announced it had been awarded a Cabinet Office grant to help boost more social action opportunities for young people and is partnering with NFYFC, The Canal and River Trust and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds to deliver the projects.

The funding will enable NFYFC with NCVYS and partners to spread opportunities through a new Social Action Squad Academy run by young people for young people.

Together, the partnership will consolidate existing expertise, practice and networks. It will deliver social action squads to provide 1,500 new environmental and rural youth social action opportunities to young people who may want to get involved in the National Citizen Service (NCS) and those graduating from NCS.

This will provide 10 young people with paid employment opportunities to help spread learning across the wider number of young people the partnership will reach. NCVYS will also use its position as a sector leader to enhance practice and understanding of successful social action projects across the wider youth sector.

For further information regarding youth participation of the Youth Social Action Fund contact Youthwork Officer Cath Sykes.

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.

Representatives from NFYFC joined their counterparts at the European Council of Young Farmers (CEJA) at the Spring Parliament thanks to funding from HOPS Labour Solutions and Mole Valley Farmers.

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.

Working together

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."

How YFCs gave their support:

  • Clubs in Somerset helped move cattle from flooded farms, filled sandbags and have been collecting donations and helping to coordinate deliveries. They are also actively fundraising and supporting a clean up effort
  • North Somerset YFC collected over 125 bales (five loads) of hay, silage and straw donated by local farmers and delivered them to Sedgemoor market with the help of Alvis Contracting and Chris Burr Contracting
  • Wormleighton YFC in Warwickshire pulled together two loads of forage and have offered support for the clean up mission
  • Eden Valley YFC in Cumbria have taken pledges of forage from farmers in the local area to transport to Somerset
  • Staffordshire Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (FYFC) launched a campaign with the Staffordshire NFU and Staffordshire and Birmingham Agricultural Society
  • Hertfordshire FYFC collected donations from local farmers 
  • Hampshire FYFC collected around 45 tonnes of forage and members Chris Gray and Richard Morgan drove 97 miles to Somerset to deliver it.
  • Shropshire FYFC collected 110 tonnes of forage from 50 farmers
  • Suffolk FYFC collected forage, hay, straw and feed and delivered them to Somerset
  • Members of Boroughbridge Young Farmers Club went on a 530-mile round trip to deliver 37 bales of straw to Somerset
  • Corringham YFC in Lincolnshire made donations to deliver to Somerset – including animal feed, clothing for the farmers and £500 in cash to buy further supplies
  • Tim Sedgewick of Ricknall Grange Farm, Henry Hutchinson of Red Gap Farm and Ben Layfield of Holland Hall Farm joined forces and asked for help from local farmers and hauliers throughout County Durham and North Yorkshire
  • Cawthorne YFC collected hay and silage before it was delivered 225 miles on a tractor and trailer
  • Llysfran YFC in Pembrokeshire have raised £800 to support farmers in Somerset
  • Bridgend YFC hosted a Valentine’s dance to fundraise for the cause and Hope Valley YFC donated £350 from its Valentine’s disco
  • Cornwall clubs are actively fundraising and are looking to donate to the Addington fund
  • Bedfordshire FYFC are asking farmers and companies in the region to make donations
  • Glamorgan YFC is hosting a Somerset Flood Relief fundraiser this month with NFU Glamorgan and Severn Group YFC are also hosting a disco this week to raise funds. 
  • Culm Valley YFC in Devon will be also be donating £1 from every entry fee to the Club's Tight & Bright Disco next week and are encouraging as many people as possible to come
  • Doncaster YFC is donating all proceeds from its race night and dinner dance to forage aid
  • Cambridgeshire's FYFC Chairman Luke Abblitt and former chairman Jon Eayrs gathered donations.
  • Honiton YFC raised £4,500 at the performance of its production Gogglebox and through an Auction of Promises. Half of the money is being donated to Somerset with the other half to Diabetes UK
  • Vale of Evesham YFC held a skittles and Supper night and raised £870 for people affected by floods in Somerset.
  • NFYFC Council and staff collected nearly £400 during the February Council meeting to donate to people affected by the Somerset floods.

Many clubs have also already agreed to help out with a national clean up operation and are still collecting forage as it will be needed for a long time to come.

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:     

  • 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.


Designed by Kevyn Williams