National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

27 September 2017

A dish of zebra, ostrich and buffalo followed by a goat stew and a trio of South African desserts has won this year’s National Cookery Finals.

Judges said that the unique menu, which was put together by Fishguard YFC from Pembrokeshire, took them to South Africa.

“If you shut your eyes, it was like you were taken to South Africa,” said Hetty Zeigler-Jones. “They smashed it with their flavours – it was simple cooking but they used great ingredients and really great flavour.”

The Pembrokeshire team - made up of 27-year-old Jill Luke Evans, 19-year-old Llinos Raymond and 15-year-old Cerys Davies - like to bring something different to the table in the cookery competition. After finishing runners up last year with a menu that included insects, this year they turned to bush meat to come up with a truly authentic food experience.

“You spend so long cooking these meals so you want to do something that is a bit different and that you can change and develop,” said team member Jill Luke-Evans. “We didn’t want something that other people would cook.” 

Competitors were asked to put together a meal based on the theme of ‘Around the World’ that would impress two exchangees who were visiting from a location on the YFC Travel programme.

“We decided on Africa straight away, but we also wanted it to be somewhere you could travel to with YFC, so we chose South Africa. None of us has been there, but I’d really love to go!”

Judges said that Pembrokeshire was the clear winner but that standards across the board had been higher than ever, including one entry whose food presentation could easily grace a Michelin Star restaurant.

“Some of the food presentation was quite incredible,” said judge Ben Axford. “But it wasn’t just the food – team communication, personal presentation in terms of outfits and hygiene were all stepped up a notch from previous years.”

The Pembrokeshire trio also took part in a cookery demo at the Malvern Autumn Show on the Sunday. The team cooked up their entry into last year's Cookery competition, using ants and other insects, to a crowd of spectators at the Show. 

Winning line-up: 

1st place: Pembrokeshire FYFC

2nd place: Bedfordshire FYFC

3rd place: Carmarthenshire FYFC

Best presentation of the day: Lancashire FYFC

Best dish of the day: Yorkshire FYFC for their Panna Cotta

Best Display of the day: Cumbria FYFC


22 September 2017

Practice and preparation are key to winning the Stockman of the Year national title say this year’s winners.

Junior Stockman of the Year Jessica Odgers from Lancashire FYFC and Senior Stockman of the Year Rhydian Bevan from Pembrokeshire FYFC were both thrilled to be victorious in the final. The competition is sponsored by Rutland Electric Fencing and is a hard-fought contest by our finalists. 

Jessica, from Lancashire FYFC, missed out on her County title this year after two wins on the trot – but has more than made up for that with the national victory

“A lot of it is down to practice and knowing your breeds,” she explained. “There are a lot of people who are exceptional at one breed, but the key is to be a good all-rounder.”

As well as practice, preparation is also important. “For example, you need to stay up to date on current affairs 

for the animal health questionnaire and you need good general farm knowledge. And if you can find out what breeds you are judging beforehand, it’s a good idea to take a look at the breed standards so you know what the judge is looking for.”

And, if things don’t go as well as hoped, Jessica advises to use that experience too. “It takes time to learn how to do it so make sure you ask judges for feedback so you know where you need to improve.”

Jessica would encourage any young farmer to get involved in stock judging. “Don’t be afraid to give it a go – get involved at your Club and go ahead and enter competitions,” she said.

For Rhydian, he was delighted to add National 

Stockman of the Year title to his portfolio.

“I’ve won Pembrokeshire three times, so this is fantastic to get the National one,” said Rhydian who had to keep practising to keep his eye in as there was a long gap between the Pembrokeshire event in April and the national one in September.

"I’ve done some practices on a few different rings and made sure that I’ve been able to do the write-ups within the time allowed. The key is to make the practice as much like the competition as you can.”

Rhydian’s advice to anyone looking to improve their own stockjudging skills is to see as much stock as you can and to get help and advice from club leaders.

“You also need to think about your vocabulary,” he said. “They’re always looking for comparisons so think about how you compare the animals. It takes a bit of time to learn some of the terms and use them in your writing.”

See more information about the 2017-18 Stockman of the Year competition.  and Young Stockman of the Year competition. 

22 September 2017

Northumberland Young Farmer Vicky Furlong has won Countryfile’s Young Farmer of the Year award at the BBC Food and Farming Awards.

Vicky, from Shatoe YFC, was presented with the award at a ceremony in London on Thursday 21 September - during National Young Farmers' Week. She was shortlisted alongside two other YFC members Tom Phillips from Crucorney YFC in Gwent and Tom Addison from Newport Pagnell YFC in Buckinghamshire.

Vicky was recognised for the work she does in managing Crowhall Estate in Northumberland, where, at 24 years old, she manages 120 cattle and 700 sheep – with only one other helper

Vicky said: “I feel immensely proud to have been chosen out of all the applicants, we all deserve some sort of award, especially as it is such a dangerous industry to work in! The effort that the younger generation put in to get into the industry is demonstrated by the amount of people nominated for this award. It’s a privilege to stand up there and hopefully the future is bright. The award is a great way for young people to be recognised in the industry.”

Those who know Vicky will not be surprised by her achievement or dedication. She currently holds the ATV trophy for the County and was also named Shaftoe YFC’s Senior Member of the Year in 2016.

NFYFC President Charlotte Smith was at the awards ceremony along with Adam Henson to congratulate Vicky.

Charlotte said: “All three finalists were fantastic people doing fantastic things. Vicky is an inspirational and ambitious young farmer and it is a joy to be able to celebrate that through the Countryfile award.”

Read more about Vicky and the other finalists here.  

21 September 2017

NFYFC is celebrating 70 years of its bespoke travel programme for YFC members and is launching 16 new opportunities for members to apply for in 2017-18.

The YFC Travel programme started in 1947, with Kenneth Osborn the first member to take a trip overseas, which was to the USA.

While forms of travel have changed over the years – it took members six weeks to travel to Australia in the 1970s – the positive feedback from the adventures has remained a constant. In 2016, 100% of members who had been on the trips said their experience was positive.

The NFU Mutual Charitable Trust has supported YFC Travel for the past 15 years, enabling members of Young Farmers' Clubs to experience unique travel opportunities, receive expert training and realise their dreams.

Since 2002, The NFU Mutual Charitable Trust has given nearly a quarter of a million pounds to help young farmers and in the last 12 months more than 1,500 YFC members are expected to benefit from this support. Read more about the Trust here. 

Five top facts about YFC Travel:

  1. YFC members travelled a total of 491,286 miles in 2017
  2. NFYFC has assisted 815 members to travel overseas since 2000 
  3. In the last 70 years, Australia, Canada and the USA are the countries YFC members have visited the most
  4. This is the 30th year since NFYFC launched the C Alma Baker trip to New Zealand. YFC members receive a working scholarship and travel to New Zealand for free to live and work on a beef and sheep farm
  5. 123 members have travelled on the C Alma Baker trip since it began.

In the 2017-18 membership year, YFC members are invited to apply for 16 different available trips. These range from staying with host families in Canada to volunteering trips in Nepal or South Africa.

Steven Crane, from Longridge YFC, travelled to New Zealand earlier this year on a working scholarship with C Alma Baker and said the experience was life-changing. Steven now has ambitions to set up his own sheep farm away from his family farm.

“Since I have returned, I have started to look for my own plot of land. It has given me the confidence and experience to think I can do it myself. I learnt so much and feel inspired to do more,” he said.  

There are four scholarships available to YFC members through the C Alma Baker trust – and the three month trip also allows for participants to spend an extra month travelling the island.

Other trips available include taking part in European seminars with Rural Youth Europe as well as an opportunity to attend their Rally.

Applications for YFC Travel must be submitted by 3 November 2017. All the information is available here.

Read more about YFC members’ experience of the C Alma Baker trip from over the last 30 years here. 

21 September 2017

Since becoming president Charlotte Smith has seen the value in belonging to the largest rural youth organisation in the UK 

Kindly reproduced, courtesy of the Sunday Telegraph. First featured in the newspaper on 17 September 2017

‘You don’t have to be a young farmer to be a 'Young Farmer’ – it’s just as well really. I am the proud president of The National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs and I’m neither young nor a farmer! Growing up in rural Leicestershire I was of course aware of the local YFC, but as the daughter of librarians with plans to become a serious actress it never occurred to me to join. And that’s a shame.

Young farmers do all the things you’d expect – learning how to judge a good dairy cow or the best cut of beef  – but they also do a lot of things you’d never expect – public speaking, drama, street dance and tug of war? Oh yes, and cheerleading, football and netball... along with raising more than a million pounds a year for charities and campaigning on issues like farm safety.

But mainly they have a lot, and I do mean a lot, of fun. I’d have loved it when I was young – I’m loving it now I’m older too! I’ve been to a few YFC events – and survived. There is a lot of laughing, and yes once they’re old enough a fair amount of partying. But these young people are very much part of their communities and spend a lot of time trying to improve the lot of rural Britain – 4,000 hours last year to be precise were spent on community projects through NFYFC’s Countryside Challenge – a project funded by Pears and the Cabinet Office.

Young farmers, being the generous sorts they are, have been organising loads of initiatives for the greater community good over the past year. From cleaning village signs to pushing a bed around the local area to raise funds, young farmers have been making their mark. And it’s been appreciated. Feedback from those who are benefiting from their acts of kindness revealed how much of a positive impact their work had on the local community. In the process, these communities also learnt more about young farmers and the fact they are a friendly, hard working bunch!

This summer I took the kids to The Essex Country Show. It’s massive, with everything from sheep to motorbike stunt riders. We, along with 16,000 other people, had a great time. And the whole day is put on by a team of young farmers. Yes, you read that right. A group of people aged from 10 to 26 organise the whole damn thing… they book the venue, the trade stands, organise the car parks, the health and safety, the catering, the bars (best job?) all the painful details of running a big event.  It is a massive commitment of time and energy, and the profits are ploughed back into developing rural young people through the county Federation.  The skills people develop running the show – and the skills other young farmers pick up from running their own clubs – will be with them for ever.

It’s a point that is being highlighted this National Young Farmers’ Week (18-24 September) when its 619 YFCs across England and Wales will be celebrating all that is great about being a member of the largest rural youth organisation in the UK. Chat to any one of the 24,500 members and you’ll not only be amazed at how articulate they are (all that public speaking practice) but also how passionate they are about an organisation that has had a massive impact on their lives - shaping careers and relationships.

It’s certainly the case for 22-year-old Matthew Southall who tells me his student life at Harper Adams has been a hit thanks to YFC, where he’s studying a Rural Enterprise and Land Management degree.  

“YFC opens up a lot of opportunities, and getting involved with the sports and competitions are great ways to meet like-minded people. The Public Speaking competitions have boosted my confidence in talking to people and doing presentations. If it wasn’t for joining YFC, I wouldn’t have gone to university and been where I am now.”

The skills and connections gained through YFC are also working their magic on the rural entrepreneurs too. Just look at Emily Cartmail, 20, who has set up a cake business, backed up by a start-up loan through Staffordshire Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs, and now has a solid client base.

“YFC has helped me immensely with setting up my own business. I came up with the idea of a cake business after a member asked if I could make a farm-themed cake for a family birthday, and since then the orders haven't stopped!  I have picked up so many skills through being an NFYFC member that are helping with my business. Public Speaking gave me the confidence to give a speech, which helped me in the interview section of my grant application. Reaching the national Cookery competition finals for two years has given me the self-belief that I was good enough to do this as a career if I worked hard.”

And it is this confidence that impresses. YFC gives these young people from as young as 10 years old, often living in some of our remotest locations, a chance to have a social life and the opportunity to shine at things they had perhaps never considered. Matthew, for example, found he could throw a few impressive dance floor moves. “YFC members have a ‘get stuck in and give it a go’ attitude," he says. "I found myself performing in the national final of a dancing competition in Blackpool, despite never having danced seriously before."

The opportunities for personal development astound. Not only do they get in front of farming ministers and sit in hefty discussion groups with the likes of Defra, they also get offered bags of training opportunities (great for the CV) and travel experiences. These young people are jetting off to the likes of New Zealand, the USA and Canada, learning about cultures and lifestyles in other rural parts of the world.

So if you’re near a club – give it a go. Doesn’t matter if you’re not a farmer, doesn’t matter if you don’t ever want to be a farmer! If you’re the daughter of librarians with aspirations to be a serious actress then I reckon it’s a great move. 

19 September 2017

A new free business guide offering essential advice about how to get a farming business started has been launched by The National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (NFYFC) and Savills.

The online resource, which is being launched during National Young Farmers’ Week (18-24 September), was created in response to demand from young people who wanted more support for starting successful farming business ventures.

As the industry faces huge changes post-Brexit, the Smart Farming Guide, supported by Defra, offers a one-stop shop for practical advice on starting, funding, protecting and growing a robust agri business. This mobile-friendly, online guide will be continually updated with information during a time of unprecedented change.

The guide also helps members of Young Farmers’ Clubs (YFCs) to plan and deliver business development competitions as part of their programme of activities for developing YFC members’ skills.

Highlights of the Smart Farming Guide include

  • Case studies from successful farming entrepreneurs such as Chris Wildman from the Town End Farm Shop and Guy Watson from Riverford Organics. 
  • Advice on the types of finance available.
  • Risk analysis and business protection advice. 
  • A resources section with links to wider business support.   
  • Previous NFYFC work, including videos giving advice on starting the succession conversation and links to the business opportunity matching service.

Sarah Palmer, NFYFC’s Agriculture and PR Manager, said: “The aim of the project was to encourage early take-up of good business practice and provide an on-line guide for all aspects of business development. Expertise and collaboration were key components of the project offering YFC members a comprehensive guide on many levels.  

“Both YFC members and the European Council of Young Farmers (CEJA) have raised awareness of the need for business support and new business models of collaboration between generations of farmers to help ensure their farming futures.  The Smart Farming Guide’s online platform helps to deliver this request and signposts many other sources of existing help and advice.”

NFYFC and Savills have first-hand experience of developing and delivering business development training.  The guide will be a linked to future projects to ensure consistent advice and information.

Clive Beer Savills, Head of Savills UK Rural Professional Services, said: “The framework within which UK agriculture operates is about to undergo the biggest change since the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846. During the next few years our trading platforms and subsidies will change and we have to hope that these negotiations and outcomes put UK agriculture in a strong position for the future.

“This is a really exciting initiative which provides a central resource to all young farmers and I am delighted that Savills is supporting it.”

NFYFC’s President Charlotte Smith said: “This is most definitely a legacy project and a great future asset for all YFC members.”

National Young Farmers’ Week is a celebration of the work YFCs do in their local communities and the contribution they make to the future of the industry and the rural environment.

Visit the Smart Farming Guide.


Designed by Kevyn Williams