National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

29 July 2016

A Young Farmer from Herefordshire in on course to become one of the main representatives of young people living in rural areas across Europe.

Russell Carrington, of Hereford YFC, is standing unopposed for the election of chairman of Rural Youth Europe (RYE) at their general assembly on 4th August.

Founded in 1957, RYE functions as an umbrella for youth organisations working to promote and activate young people in the countryside. It provides international training possibilities and works as an intermediary between national organisations, youth organisations and public institutions on an European level. Today, RYE represents 500,000 young people across 18 countries and 20 member organisations, including NFYFC.

Russell has taken on many roles within NFYFC, including chairman of the AGRI Steering Group in 2014. He was also a RYE board member from 2013 – 2015 representing the UK and Ireland member organisations. He has also participated in organising rallies and seminars, including the Autumn Seminar 2013 [RC1] hosted by England/NFYFC.

Russell said the main reason he was running for chairman was "to give something back after gaining so much from the YFC movement” He said: “I am also looking forward to the leadership challenge, to work with a great team, to create a better future for young people from the countryside and to make a difference.

"The UK’s decision to leave the European Union has left many people wondering what this means for Rural Youth Europe. However, there is every enthusiasm for the UK young farmer organisations to stay a part of this unique and vital European Network, despite the forthcoming political changes.

"Change can be a good thing: a chance to freshen up, take a new direction and reflect on what is really valuable to us.  

"Clearly, this European platform, and the network it supports, is important to grass-roots members.  If elected I intend to work hard over the next two years to strengthen the relationship between British young farmer organisations and their European counterparts because there is great value in remaining as a wide and inclusive European platform, regardless of political boundaries. After all, the original Rural Youth Europe organisation which included the UK organisations, existed before the European Union itself.”

Read more about why Russell is standing for chairman of RYE here.

25 July 2016

A group of Young Farmers have benefited from essential ATV safety training, courtesy of the European ATV Safety Institute (EASI).

In partnership with Honda, NFYFC's ATV safety partner, and the Farm Safety Foundation, YFC members descended upon the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester for the four and a half hour course.

The course covered a wide variety of lessons, including shifting gears, braking, turning, risk awareness, riding circles, sharp turns and riding over obstacles. The course concluded with a review session where Student Performance Evaluation Forms are distributed to all riders, detailing any areas and skills that require further work and practice.

Photos from the training course in Cirencester can be found on the NFYFC's Facebook page

YFC members are entitled to a 50% discount on EASI ATV safety courses. Click here for further information. 

15 July 2016

Carmarthenshire FYFC followed up its success at the NFYFC's competitions weekend by taking home top awards at this year's Dairy Stockjudging finals at the Great Yorkshire Show.

After Aled Davies' success in the Junior Member of the Year competition two weeks before, a team of Rosie Davies, Frances Evans and Robert Jones were the winners of the Farmer & Stockbreeder Trophy. The team blew away the rest of the competition, with teams from Yorkshire and Staffordshire coming second and third respectively.

Meanwhile Aled Walters of Carmathershire A came first in the senior category, finishing ahead of his fellow county member, Robert Jones.

Frances Evans also came second in the 21 & Under category, losing out Buckinghamshire's Emily Barrett who came first. Eleanor Fisher of Cumbria C won the Junior section, beating off competition from Staffordshire and Yorkshire. 

The NFYFC would like to extend its gratitude to the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, the Cattle Societies and to "YFC at GYS" for helping with the competition.

Results from the competition are available on the website and the winners photos are available on Facebook.

11 July 2016

Young people are proving to be more responsible when it comes to farm safety than the older generation, according to the UK’s Health & Safety Executive.

Statistics released during Farm Safety Week 2016 found that from 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016, there were 29 fatal injuries in agriculture, forestry and fishing. Out of those 29 fatalities, nearly half were people over the age of 65. By stark contrast, only four fatalities occurred in 25-34 year olds and none under the age of 24.

The statistics were announced at this year’s Livestock Event at the NEC in Birmingham. A panel made of industry and farm safety experts, including NFYFC Vice Chairman, Ed Ford, were asked why they felt the statistics were so low in young people.

Allan Bowie, President of NFU Scotland, said: “I think they get it. They communicate, they understand the machines, they talk to their friends... and they’ve got the most to lose! They’ve got 40 or 50 years of their life ahead of them. I think the older generation thinks ‘It won’t happen to me’. That’s the blunt starkness of the young ones, who have a future to look forward to, and the old ones, who (to be honest) are a bit blasé. I’ve got my son pushing that agenda to his grandfather. When you hear a grandson or granddaughter saying to their grandparents ‘we would miss you at Christmas time’, that suddenly gets it through to them.”

Young Farmers were once again fully behind Farm Safety Week, an initiative launched in 2013 by the Farm Safety Foundation, aiming to reduce the number of accidents which continue to give agriculture the poorest record of any occupation in the UK and Ireland.

While the statistics in young people were welcomed by the panel, they also came with a warning and some sound advice.

Guy Smith, Vice-President of the NFU, said: “Take great pride in that record, but don’t get complacent. Make it something that you can always say about Young Farmers. Traditionally on farms, older people are seen to be more responsible than younger people. These stats tell us something completely the other way round. Young people are the better example. My advice would be for young people – do not be afraid to come forward and lecture older people on how they can make themselves safer on farms.”

NFYFC is also an active member of the Farm Safety PartnershipHSE’s Agriculture Industry Advisory Committee (AIAC) and works in partnership with the Wales Farm Safety Partnership to provide expert advice in engaging young people with farm safety. For further information about the NFYFC’s dedication to farm safety, go to

08 July 2016

Today marks the final day of Farm Safety Week 2016 supported by the Farm Safety Foundation, Farm Safety Partnerships, the Health & Safety Executive, Health & Safety Executive for Northern Ireland and Health & Safety Authority, Ireland and today reminds us that farming is not child’s play!

The fourth annual Farm Safety Week offered a week of themed practical advice and guidance for farmers and urges farmers to consider “Who would fill your boots?” if something were to happen to them and never is this more poignant than when an accident happens to a child…

According to the Farm Safety Foundation’s Stephanie Berkeley: “We all know that farms can be wonderful places for children, where independence and responsibility are fostered and family relationships are strengthened. The farm environment provides children with valuable and unique experiences that enable them to develop both socially and physically, even though they are in an isolated setting. However farmyards are not playgrounds and evidence shows that this places children at greater risk of injury when playing or helping out around the farm.”

After watching his eight year old son have a serious accident with a tractor last year former Young Farmers Clubs of Ulster President, Wallace Gregg is keen to highlight the dangers of children on farms – whether these children are guests or your own.

The 26th of October 2015 was a day like any other for Northern Ireland farmer Wallace Gregg. Wallace was preparing to pick up a low loader trailer from a local plant hire company using his Massey Ferguson 5470 tractor. Wallace’s 8 year old son James was on half term holiday and asked his father if he could come along and help. Wallace agreed and he, James and younger brother Simon (5) piled into the tractor cab with Simon was sitting on the small passenger seat in the tractor cab and James standing in front of Simon with his back to the nearside cab door.

A little into the journey Wallace started to slow the tractor down as they were approaching a junction. Wallace warned the boys that road was going to get bumpy. At this point the tractor hit a bump in the road, the near-side tractor door flew open and James fell out. Wallace immediately stopped the tractor and got out.

He found James lying semi-conscious at the side of the road. Using his mobile Wallace phoned for an ambulance and while he was making the call another driver stopped to help. Wallace asked the driver to take him and his sons to the local medical centre where he was examined by two doctors. James was then taken by ambulance to Antrim Area Hospital and transferred to Belfast Royal Victoria Hospital later that afternoon.

James had sustained a double skull fracture during the incident and was kept under sedation in intensive care for 24 hours. He did not receive surgery for his injuries but remained in hospital for eight days.

Thankfully, this story has a happy ending as James has made a full recovery and has returned to school – his condition is still being monitored to ensure that he has not suffered any long term effects.

Stephanie added: “This is a story that many farmers across the UK and Ireland can empathise with. It is something that many farmers do and have done for centuries but Wallace would be the first to advise people to really think twice and use your common sense when dealing with children on the farm. People often believe that farm children understand farm risks, but most children who are hurt in farm incidents are family members. A few straightforward steps, and proper supervision of children, will reduce these risks.

“Wallace is a very brave father to share his experience with us. Taking a ride on a tractor, combine or an ATV seems exciting to many children, but it is just not safe. Sometimes parents will say, “Well, my children always rode with me and nothing bad ever happened to them.” But year after year, we see life changing injuries to children from farm vehicles, and no parent ever thinks it will be their child.”


07 July 2016

In recent years, work-related fatalities in the UK and Ireland’s farming industries have been disproportionate compared to the number of deaths in other industries.

Tractors and moving vehicles have claimed the lives of 30 farm workers in the past five years according to the HSE Health & Safety in Agriculture Report October 2015,  representing one of the biggest dangers on a farm. Day four of the fourth annual Farm Safety Week UK & Ireland focuses on highlighting the issues surrounding transport and how to prevent transport related accidents on the farm.

Speaking at the RABDF panel discussion on the second day of the Livestock Event at the NEC, Ed Ford, Vice Chair of Council, National Federation of Young Farmers Clubs (NFYFC) said: “Farm Safety is something that both NFYFC and I am particularly keen to pioneer. Farming has the poorest safety record of any occupation in the UK and Ireland. A lack of knowledge of safety regulations and personal safety practices at all experience levels puts farm workers at serious risk of debilitating injury or worse. By increasing our knowledge and awareness of safety in all aspects of agriculture, we can begin to challenge, prevent and stop unsafe habits and practices, while giving farmers of all ages a sense of independence and control over their own personal safety.

“Farms have always been hard, physically demanding workplaces, but in the early 20th century, safety concerns evolved when tractors began replacing horses as the main farmer’s aid. These petrol-powered beauties forever reshaped the face of agriculture however they also ushered in an era of mechanised danger.”

After losing his foot in a farm accident involving a quad bike and a shotgun, Farm Safety Ambassador Mark Mather from Haugh Head, near Wooler, Northumberland is keen to highlight the harsh reality of the consequences an accident like this can have..

Mark was 24 when, in June 2008, he suffered a shotgun blast to the leg while working on the 2,500-acre mixed arable and livestock farm.


Mark had been involved with the family trade from his late teens and had completed a business course before leaving school to prepare him for the financial side of farming.

It was while ploughing a field in readiness for a kale crop when he noticed that the barley crop in the next field was being plundered by crows.


Mark returned to the house in the early evening, collecting his shotgun before heading straight out again on a quad bike which had a twitching device of decoy birds on its front rack to attract crows so they could be shot. He was carrying the double-barrelled shotgun across his lap. It was loaded, but the safety catch was on.


Mark journeyed about a quarter-of-a-mile from the farm to the first field, where he took a couple of shots, but then decided to move on to the next field. As he turned into the field, the battery powering the front-mounted twitcher moved slightly and he leaned forward to secure it.


As a result, the vehicle veered onto a slight bank and overturned, hitting the butt of the shotgun which went off, firing both barrels into his right leg. Mark was conscious, in great pain and losing a lot of blood, but he couldn’t get up and couldn’t call for help because the battery in his mobile phone was flat.


Luckily Mark’s father received a message to say that some sheep had escaped and the search for the sheep led him to where Mark was lying beneath the quad.


With the local air ambulance unavailable, RAF Boulmer came to his rescue and airlifted Mark to hospital where surgeons operated throughout the night, but were forced to amputate the leg at the thigh to save his life. Mark endured four or five further operations every other day during the following weeks.


The impact on Mark’s life and the farm business was immense. He was unable to work for over a year and on his return to work still suffered pain and weakness. But the consequences of this tragic accident did not stop there. The accident also put the family and the farm under major financial strain.


“Neighbours were very good and came in to do the silage for us,” explains Mark. “My father visited me in hospital every day and so his work time was lost. He had to hire in extra help during the considerable length of time I was unable to work. Because my injury is so severe it means there are certain aspects of the work I can no longer do. I have lost a lot of mobility and working with livestock is no longer possible. We have had to buy a specially adapted tractor which has been fitted with a left foot accelerator and I have a similarly adapted car and 4x4 vehicle.


“It has hit my parents very hard. My Dad did not go shooting at all that year, which is something that he would normally enjoy.”


The 31-year-old admits: "My accident not only put safety awareness to the fore on our own farm but on surrounding farms when friends and neighbours heard about it.


"I am prepared to talk about what happened to me if it helps prevent others suffering this kind of incident. My advice is to think twice before you start a job."

Ed Ford, NFYFC added: “Mark’s advice to think twice and use your common sense is something that we should all take away from this story. Unfortunately most farm safety issues are commonplace but they aren’t common practice and this is why initiatives like Farm Safety Week are so important. Bringing the whole industry together, for even one week each year, to share a common message means that we are doing something to address this poor safety record. 

“Mark is a very brave man. His experience demonstrates that the fallout from a farming accident is broader than you might think. As well as the victim’s pain and suffering; there can be a significant economic cost to the farm. This is why this year Farm Safety Week is urging farmers to consider “Who would fill your boots?” if they were to be affected by a serious injury.”



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