National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

31 October 2016

The YFC Life Blood campaign is aiming for its biggest donation yet and is calling on all clubs and counties to register to donate during the week commencing 14 November 2016.

In the last big push of the year, members are being encouraged to register to be blood and organ donors as part of a YFC national week of giving!

NFYFC Chairman Chris Manley, who launched the campaign in February at the start of his term of office, wants all counties to get involved during the week.

Berkshire FYFC are kicking the week off with a group donation on 14 November and Chris will be doing a group donation in Plymouth on 17 November with members of Devon FYFC.

Chris said: “A lot of clubs have hit hard times because of cuts in their grant funding, which means they are having to raise funds to support their clubs rather than fundraising for local causes. The great thing about our YFC Life Blood campaign is that clubs can still give back to their local communities by encouraging their members to register to give blood or be an organ donor.”

The campaign aim was to recruit 500 new blood and organ donors in 2016, which will go a long way to helping the thousands of patients who rely on these donations. Chris wants to reward the county that has registered the most donors during 2016 with a trophy at the national AGM.

Thousands of patients receive blood transfusions every year. The blood you give is a lifeline in an emergency and for people who need long-term treatments. Many people would not be alive today if donors had not generously given their blood. NHS Blood needs over 6,000 blood donations every day to treat patients in need across England and North Wales.

For more information about registering as a donor or organising group donations please visit the YFC Life Blood pages.

Please tell NFYFC about your donation plans during the week commencing 14 November by emailing so we can promote it.

28 October 2016

An all expenses-paid trip to KUHN’s French headquarters and manufacturing site to present their ideas for a dream machine proved to be an amazing experience for four Young Farmers. 

Four members were invited on the trip after winning KUHN’s competition to design an innovative and imaginative new piece of farm machinery that would benefit modern farming systems.

The trip to Saverne in France involved presenting their concepts to the company’s head designers. They also enjoyed an insightful tour of the KUHN factory and observed how every piece of equipment is thoroughly tested and how to assemble mower blades correctly. 

One of the winners was unable to attend the trip so Sam Dilcock, AGRI Chair, went in their place. He said: “Thank you so much to KUHN and especially Siân Pritchard, managing director of KUHN Machinery, for arranging and hosting the trip and for her help with the competition and continued support for the NFYFC AGRI steering group.

“I would encourage all YFC members to look out for future Dream Machine competition opportunities and study tours. They are invaluable and a fantastic opportunity.”


Ben Robinson, Great Smeaton YFC in Yorkshire, won the Junior (under 16) category with his design for a trailed disc and tine cultivator for use on stony land. Ben’s design emphasis was to reduce cultivation costs by negating the need to power harrow. His machine is designed with two rows of sub-soiling tines, the second of which targets soil compaction caused by tractor wheels. Ben’s design also incorporates a final set of hydraulically operated press wheels which can double-up as transportation wheels.

Benjamin Sell from Brentwood YFC in Essex won in the Intermediate (under 21) class, for designing a bale spike capable of safely and securely loading or unloading between one and four mini Hesston bales. Having struggled to unload several hundred bales during last year’s harvest with an inadequate bale spike, Ben designed the new machine to make the loading and unloading process more efficient.

Ben intends to build his first prototype – which features an anti-topple frame for when the grab isn’t in use – ahead of this year’s harvest and hopes that his design will go on to help other livestock farmers and bale contractors.

In the Senior (under 26) class, Caroline Baker of Stockton YFC in County Durham designed a bale wrapper with an automatic film loading system. As a newly trained tractor driver, the weight of replacement film tubes prevented Caroline from operating a conventional bale wrapper. Her design solves this problem by using a revolving film storage conveyor with spring- loaded film holders to make films easy to load.

In the Associate (27 years and over) category, Daniel Webber from Withleigh YFC in Devon designed a ‘Rapid Wrap’ baler and wrapper combination.  Daniel’s machine combines a conventional large square baler with an adapted version of KUHN’s SW 4004 bale wrapper to produce one machine which bales and wraps in one. Daniel’s design is aimed at farmers and contractors looking to reduce the costs and time entailed in producing square bale haylage and silage, with an emphasis on maintaining bale quality and shape as part of a non-stop baling and wrapping process.

28 October 2016

She’s a bit of a hovercraft fan and wants to learn to drive a tractor... Meet NFYFC’s new Board of Management Chairman Heather Black who has a career working with young people in the countryside through teaching, youth work and as a charity CEO. Heather will be helping steer your Federation to ensure we’re legal , safe and ethically sound. We quizzed Heather on her YFC credentials...

Why did you want to be involved with Young Farmers’ Clubs?
Saw the advert and thought that would be a fun thing to do, I have good memories of working with Young Farmers over the years!

Where do you live and who with?
West coast of Snowdonia (the house with the hovercraft outside!) with my husband (Ewan), Fraggle the dog and a very naughty puppy called Moli who is going through a very adolescent phase!

What’s the most amazing fact you have learnt about YFCs so far?
They discuss the price of tractors at breakfast! Nearly everyone I tell about my new role was a Young Farmer once or has a story to tell. What a great legacy!

What do you hope to bring to the Federation in your role as Chairman of the Board of Management?
Help the organisation to continue to improve its governance structures, support new initiatives from the membership using my knowledge and skills and ensure that Young Farmers are providing a voice for the needs of rural young people in current affairs.

If you could enter any of our YFC competitions, which would it be and why?
Do you have one for hovercraft driving? Floral Art ... I like gardening and using different plants (particularly herbs) and I did get my Brownie flower arranging badge many years ago! I am currently on a competitions committee for Hovercraft racing so I am looking forward to seeing how YFC runs its events...maybe I can pinch some ideas!

Have you been to any of the countries on our YFC Travel programme and if so which country did you like the most?
Been to Australia, Austria, Germany, Scotland, USA and Africa..... Australia it has regular, predictable sunshine when you want it most (GB wintertime)

Is there a farming skill you wish you could learn and why?
To drive a tractor.... I have just learnt to drive my quad this summer so looking for something a bit bigger now!

Tell us something about yourself that not many people know about you
I once was the lead singer of a band called 'Heather and the scone eaters!'

27 October 2016

The National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (NFYFC) has appointed Heather Black as its new Chairman of its Board of Management.

Heather, who lives in Llanegryn, Gwynedd in Wales, has a career working with young people in the countryside through teaching, youth work and as a charity CEO.

Members of the NFYFC Council officially approved Heather’s new appointment at their Council meeting this weekend (23 October) in Coventry.

Heather has worked at Somerset Rural Youth Project for 16 years and has been its CEO since 2000, following an early career in teaching and working with youth centres and small charities. More recently Heather was the Head of Outward Bound’s Aberdyfi Centre and has just completed her Level 7 Diploma at Bangor University.

Heather has also chaired the Rural Youth Network, been a committee member for Children in Need (South and West) and been a charity trustee for Learning South West.

Heather, is married with two children, and is a keen outdoor enthusiast and enjoys the countryside. While she has never been a member of a Young Farmers’ Club, Heather has worked with YFCs at a local and national level.

Heather Black, Chairman of NFYFC’s Board of Management, said: “I have a lot of respect for YFCs and their members and I am excited about this new challenge. I am looking forward to sharing my experience with NFYFC to help them develop a stronger strategy for the future. I have a lot to learn about the organisation and I am looking forward to getting out there and meeting members.”

James Eckley, Chief Officer of NFYFC, said: “We are delighted that Heather Black is the new Chairman of NFYFC’s Board of Management. We are eager to use Heather’s experience with Somerset’s Rural Youth Project to help us develop the Federation and shape its future.”

Frank Chester was the former Chairman of the Board of Management and he stepped down at the meeting in Coventry following four years at the helm. Vice Chairman Julia Pointon also completed her term of four years on the NFYFC Board of Management.

25 October 2016

A new Chairman of the Board of Management and a new date for National Young Farmers’ Week were just some of the changes at NFYFC’s October Council meeting.

Members from across England and Wales met in Coventry to discuss future plans for competitions, Annual Convention, travel and agricultural issues that will all have an impact on clubs and counties.

Among the decisions was the announcement that the competition theme for 2017/18 is Magic and Mystery and that Line Dancing is to be replaced with Disco Dancing.
There will also be a new sheep shearing competition to be held at the Great Yorkshire Show.

Chair of the Competitions Steering Group Oonagh O’Neill also gave some interesting statistics on the competition participation rates of members.  The information showed that three in four YFC members get involved in the competitions programme with the most popular competitions being sport and Tug of War!

In the Events and Marketing Steering Group, members discussed a new look for Ten26, new social media channels they would like to see NFYFC participating in and National Young Farmers’ Week.

Council agreed to move the date of the 2017 National Young Farmers’ Week to commence from Monday 25 September so that it did not coincide with competitions from the 2016-17 year.

Bands and fancy dress themes were also debated for the 2017 Annual Convention, which will all be revealed after the next Council meeting in February.

The group revealed that Farm Animals won the online fancy dress poll for the YFC Ski trip and Council agreed that the 2018 location for YFC Ski would be Val D’Isere in France.

The Personal Development Steering Group, chaired by Mark Hurst, reviewed training and travel and are looking to put a working group together to focus on hosting a European Rally in the next three years.

Chairman of the Youth Forum Amy McWhirter delivered her report at the Council meeting, championing younger members of the organisation and saying that a review is happening about the YFC offer for junior members.

In the Agriculture and Rural Issues Steering Group (AGRI), members discussed the sensitive issue of succession and how they could support members. A video will be made available soon for members.

It was an emotional report from the Chairman of the Board of Management as Frank Chester stepped down from his post after four years serving the Federation. Members presented him with an engraved decanter and a YFC branded milking apron!

Frank said: “It has been an amazing experience being your Board of Management Chairman for the last four years. I have just been a small part of simply the best team. YFC is without doubt the greatest rural youth organisation!”

Vice Chairman Julia Pointon also completed her four year term on the NFYFC Board of management and also received gifts and praise from members.

New Board Chairman Heather Black was appointed during the meeting and said she was looking forward to learning more about Young Farmers’ Clubs. Heather, who lives in Llanegryn, Gwynedd in Wales, has a career working with young people in the countryside through teaching, youth work and as a charity CEO.

NFYFC’s Council meets three times a year to make plans for future activities and to develop NFYFC nationally. Elected representatives from each county of the Federation give their input on behalf of their members to discuss issues as wide ranging as the theme for the fancy dress at Convention to the suggested competitions for the year ahead.

Any major decisions are then voted through (or declined) at a formal Council meeting with all the elected Council representatives.

To find out more about this latest Council meeting read the full report online and to ask your County Office for information if you would like to stand for a future position.

20 October 2016

A lack of financial backing for young farmers was highlighted as a major inhibitor for young people wanting to get into farming in the next five years, post-Brexit, an online consultation by the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (NFYFC) found.

The survey ¬– ‘Considerations for a Future British Agricultural Policy’ – gathered views from young people involved in farming following the decision this summer for Britain to leave the European Union. Topics covered included future farm business culture; employment skills and training; farming regulations; building farm businesses; and farming subsidies. A desire for parity with the EU on animal welfare legislation and maintenance of effective environmental conditions were key considerations for future farming.

NFYFC office holders will discuss the survey results with Defra so that young people’s views are considered as part of a future British Agricultural Policy.

Availability of finance was highlighted as one of the most important issues in the next five years of having a farm business career. Responses included: 
•    39% of respondents stated availability of finance for farm investments
•    29% stated availability of farm land or farm buildings
•    21% stated availability of working capital
•    10% stated the availability of ‘other resources’.

NFYFC’s Agricultural and Rural Issues Chairman Sam Dilcock said: “Getting started in farming has many challenges.  We’ve now got the Land Partnerships Service, to help bring together farmers and land with new entrants and business ideas, which is great. But we need to look at short- and long-term finance too – which are especially big barriers to new entrants.”

Feedback showed there was a sense amongst many young farmers that existing land owners and farmers, who have control of the land and an income from subsidy, are a barrier to new entrants who want to establish themselves in business. While the majority of respondents wanted to see subsidies continue – 46% wanted it to continue only for a limited time.

Many of these young farmers do not expect to be given subsidies, but they recognise the unfairness of a system which is loaded against them. Existing farmers are provided with support, but those at the foot of the ladder are not.

The most popular choice for young farmers (35%) was to reduce or remove area-based basic subsidy payments and instead support farmers through grants/loans for farm business investments.

NFYFC’s Vice Chairman Lynsey Martin said: “If the subsidy system is supposed to help farming become more dynamic, to contribute public goods and benefits, then it might do this better if it were not so inextricably tied to land ownership but instead addressed the business needs of established farmers and new entrants alike.”
Finding the right sort of employees in the future was also a concern for Young Farmers as ‘future-employers.’ When asked about the skills most important for developing a farm business, young farmers highlighted the need for business administration skills, with nearly a third highlighting technical skills as important.

•    38% chose business administration skills (e.g. on legal and financial aspects of business operations)
•    30% chose technical skills (e.g. on using EBVs in livestock breeding decisions, or on the safe use of pesticides)
•    24% chose operational business skills (e.g. on understanding customers, market research and innovation)

Whilst there is clearly a diversity of skills needs amongst new entrants to farming, the importance of business administration skills stands out, and ties-in with surveys in previous years which have highlighted this as an important area for young farmers in their first years of business.

NFYFC’s Vice Chair Ed Ford said: “Modern farming equipment requires people with the practical skills as well as the education and understanding to use state-of-the-art machinery. The aging population of farm workers and the perception of careers and opportunities within the industry are still issues that detract from the sector.”

Download the full summary of survey responses.


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