National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

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.”


05 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.

Tuesday of Farm Safety Week focuses on Machinery. Poorly used or faulty machinery is a major cause of death and injury on farms. Farmers come into contact with a host of machinery daily - combines, choppers and hay balers which bring their own attendant dangers. Hands, hair and clothing can be caught by unguarded PTO shafts or other unguarded moving parts such as pulleys and belts. People can be injured by front-end loaders, falling from a moving tractor or being struck by its wheels. 

Machinery accidents can be prevented by keeping the machine in good repair, fitting and ensuring all safety equipment (such as guards, safe access platforms and ROPS on tractors) are operating with the machine at all times and not taking risks when working with powerful machinery.

According to Alan Plom, Chair, Farm Safety Partnership Machinery Group: “Over the course of this week, we will have five days, five themes and five countries with one very clear question – Have you thought about “Who Would Fill Your Boots?” if you were to have a farm accident...  The initiative is 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 aims to educate and inspire a drive to improve agriculture’s  poor safety record.”

After losing limbs in a life changing accident with a potato harvester two and a half years ago, Darren Taylor a sheep farmer and contractor from Bolton Percy in North Yorkshire, is all too aware of how easily a risk that you have taken “a million times before” can change your life forever…

Darren was running the harvester early one morning, alone, in preparation for a day’s work. He tried to kick a stone out of the cleaning system at the back of the machine – something he admits to having done ‘a million times before’ – however this time his foot got caught in the rollers and pulled him in. As he tried to free himself, his left arm and his other leg also got sucked in. He was trapped in the machine for around 25 minutes until two colleagues arrived for work and raised the alarm.

Two-and-a-half years later, Darren is ‘starting again’. He lost his right leg below the knee and his left leg right up to his hip. His left arm had to be removed from just below the elbow, but was sewn back on. He cannot bend it and has limited use of the hand. He is, however, very much alive, as is his steely determination that is both courageous and inspirational.

Darren was airlifted to Leeds General Infirmary and put in an induced coma for eight days. He underwent three major operations – each lasting 15-20 hours – in quick succession and was on dialysis because the accident had left so many toxins in his bloodstream. He spent three months in hospital and had to go to theatre just to have his dressings cleaned. 

Darren still gets nightmares. And as he admitted, kicking a stone out of the back of the harvester was something he had done a million times before – and something he saw others do all the time.

“It was one of those flinty stones, they get in and they stick,” he recalls,

“What’s ironic is the first time I tried to get it out I actually switched the machine off, but I couldn’t hear where it was so I put the machine back on. The only thing I can think of that was different that day was that I had a new pair of boots on and they were a bit softer. I was unlucky – and more unlucky to be on my own. If someone had been with me I would probably only have lost a foot.”

Nowadays, Darren thinks he is more safety conscious, particularly for others. He also feels his accident has changed the way colleagues think and work. He added: “Farming is weather-related and there are big pressures just to get on with things. I want to make money like anyone else, but for the sake of 10 minutes switch the machines off. I’m 47 and have had a big part of my life but I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.

“Farm machinery is generally much safer than it used to be but it’s also a lot stronger. It’s become so good that you do a lot more work on your own. When things do go wrong the machines are less forgiving. Thirty years ago I would probably have been able to stop the harvester myself, but not now.”

According to Alan Plom: “Everybody in farming knows somebody who has been injured or killed in an accident. Organisations like the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (R.A.B.I.) offer invaluable support to people like Darren and are happy to support Farm Safety Week. Asking farmers to consider ‘Who Would Fill Your Boots?’ seems like the right thing to do given the consequences of taking constant risks when working. One day your luck could run out. One day it could be you.

Alan added: “This Farm Safety Week we are echoing Darren’s call not to rely on luck when working. Agricultural machinery is dangerous and can rip off a limb or kill in seconds. Make sure you use the SAFE STOP approach - ensure equipment is switched off when making routine checks or maintenance and always take your time to think about what you are doing and what might go wrong as making a few simple checks could actually save a life – maybe your own!”



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