National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

22 November 2017

More education on food and farming is needed in schools say Young Farmers who have been meeting with Defra to share their views on a future farming policy.

Greater understanding of the industry would benefit farmers and those in associated industries according to the discussions YFC members have held recently across the country. The discussion groups are part of a Defra supported initiative to give young farmers from eight regions the opportunity to help shape a future British Agricultural Policy.

During the English Winter Fair (18-19 November), many competitors at NFYFC’s national stockjudging finals, took a break from competing to join the discussion group with Defra held at the Staffordshire County Showground.

As well as the discussions around education, members also talked about shaping future agri-environment schemes, boosting farm productivity, risk management and resilience, support, skills, training and labour and promoting a British brand.

Harriet Wilson, NFYFC’s AGRI Chair, was at the meeting in Staffordshire. She said:

“It was a fantastic opportunity for Young Farmers to get their voices heard by Defra. It’s important that a future farming policy takes on board the opinions and ideas from the next generation of farmers and these discussion groups are giving us the platform to do this.

“I would encourage YFC members to make the most of the opportunity to attend one of the groups in a location near to them. Education came up as a key topic in our discussion group and also in the Devon group, so it’s something the whole industry needs to work on as well as Government."

NFYFC is working with LEAF and FACE to help bring farming, food and environmental topics to young people in their school classroom. Vice Chairman Lynsey Martin is also hoping to encourage more YFCs to work with their local schools when she stands for election as Chairman of NFYFC in 2018.  A new Curve training module is also being planned that will help encourage YFCs to get involved.

Topics that have been raised in other discussion groups have included improvements to administration and inspection; more collaboration (from Defra) with current assurance schemes; a request for incentives to improve soil quality, investment for improving on-farm drainage systems, low interest loans for capital investment/new entrants, better/more succession and matching service advice, and incentives for future share farming.  

Defra have told NFYFC that the information has been useful and insightful for shaping a future policy.

Feedback from YFC members has shown unanimous support for further regional discussion groups with YFC members and a keen interest in future policy development.

Find out more information about the Discussion Groups and read the NFYFC’s AGRI policy position paper. 

21 November 2017

The National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (NFYFC) celebrated its 20th year of hosting its national stockjudging final at Staffordshire County Showground during the English Winter Fair at the weekend (18-19 November).

Twenty one teams from across England and Wales judged and gave reasons for beef and lamb live and carcase in the first of NFYFC’s national finals of its 2017-18 competitions programme.

It was the second consecutive year that Herefordshire Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (FYFC) was declared the overall winner. The team made up of Polly Aubrey, Lee Thomas, Megan Phillips and Andrew Bennett scored the highest marks in all areas of the competition and won the much-coveted John Spear trophy.

This trophy is one of four trophies that were given to NFYFC back in the 1950s when the stockjudging competitions were first held at the Royal Smithfield Show in London. The official presentation of awards was made by William Bedell from the Smithfield Club and Robert Madders, the Chairman of the English Winter Fair committee.

One Herefordshire team member, Andrew Bennett, celebrated a hat trick of wins as he also won first place in the Senior category for judging Lamb live and Carcase and, along with Megan Phillips, won The Smithfield Trophy. Andrew, 20, from Dilwyn YFC, was delighted with the result.

“Yorkshire seemed to be taking a clean sweep so we were very shocked when the results were read out and over the moon when Herefordshire were announced the overall winners. A huge thank you to our trainers John Hanson, Roger Williams and Tom Bennett.”

Andrew said his stockjudging experiences have helped him grow in confidence since he joined his YFC four years ago.

“At school I was very nervous with presentations in front of a class of 20,” said Andrew. “But by being involved in Young Farmers and presenting to the judges at stockjudging, it has given me confidence and I’m quite happy to talk in front of the whole school now!”

The annual competition encourages YFC members to judge two groups of live cattle and two groups of beef carcases. They must place a group of four cattle and carcases in order of merit and give reasons. They are also asked to judge two classes of live lambs and two classes of carcases.

The carcases were provided by Bradshaw Bros, the beef from the exhibitors and the lambs from Madders & Johnson.

The competition is supported by AHDB Beef and Lamb, Rutland Electric Fencing and the Staffordshire and Birmingham Agricultural Society.

Katie Thorley, AHDB Knowledge Transfer Senior Manager, said: “We support the NFYFC’s national final of stockjudging competitions because selection for slaughter is a vital part of stockmanship. To maximise returns it is important to know your market and produce animals to hit their specification.”

NFYFC members are currently being offered Meat for the Market training with AHDB to help improve these skills.

Richard Whittington, part of the AHDB selection team, was a judge over the weekend and said: “As judge of the NFYFC national senior stock judging competition I was looking for the competitors to have an understanding of modern day market requirements. I'm pleased to say they showed me this particularly in the carcase section. The standard was high and a good advert for YFC and the future of British farming.”

Former YFC member Richard Gardiner, Lecturer and Programme Manager in Agriculture at Newton Rigg College, was also a judge and was equally impressed with competitors.

“Thank you to NFYFC for asking me to judge – I had two very enjoyable days. The quality of the judging was of a very high standard and a credit to all the competitors who took part and a wealth of knowledge was shown for both the live and carcase judging."

A YFC supper, sponsored by Bagshaws Agriculture, was held on the Saturday evening with more than 90 YFC members, judges and stewards attending.

The 2017-18 first place winners:

Intermediate Beef - Live & Carcase 1st Place: Tom Barley Yorkshire B

Senior Live Beef and Carcase: Harriet Wilson, Staffordshire A

Intermediate Lamb Live & Carcase 1st Place: Anna Elgie, Yorkshire B            

Senior Lamb Live and Carcase: Andrew Bennett: Herefordshire A

The Mark Madders Trophy, awarded to the County Intermediate team with the highest score (Beef and Lamb): Tom Barley and Anna Elgie, Yorkshire B

The Bob Williams Trophy, awarded to the County Senior team with the highest combined score, beef and lamb: Harriet Wilson and Jonathan Wilson, Staffordshire

The Smithfield Trophy for Beef Live and Carcase awarded to: Rebecca Dennis & Steven Crimp, Devon C and Robert Mollatt & Harriet Wilson, Staffordshire A

The Smithfield Trophy, presented for Lamb live and carcase: Megan Phillips and Andrew Bennett, Herefordshire A

The John Spear Trophy, awarded to the County with the overall highest marks: Polly Aubrey, Lee Thomas, Megan Phillips and Andrew Bennett , Herefordshire A

For the full list of winners and final placements visit our results page.  

09 November 2017

Long-term investment in conservation agriculture will benefit associated industries and the wider public, concluded leading experts, young farmers and conservationists at a Future Wildlife, Future Farming event at The Game and Wildlife Trust’s Allerton Project in November.

The event, organised by NFYFC and A Focus on Nature and supported by Defra, was aimed at bringing young farmers and young conservationists together to share good practice and talk about future sustainability and productivity. Discussions will help to feed into next year’s consultation on a future agriculture policy.

Young farmers and conservationists travelled from far and wide to talk, walk and learn, exchange ideas and bring misconceptions and hot topics to the fore.

Delegates to the free event got to see how integrated farming, wildlife, woodland, and game conservation can work and heard from leading experts Jim Egan from the Game and Wildlife Trust and policy adviser and farmer Ed Barker.

Ed debated the issue of large scale farms being easier to administer; from quantifying production results, efficiency and buying power to government schemes’ administration, and asked the question, “should society accept that big is better just because of convenience?” 

Other notable questions that were raised included: ‘Do farmers do enough to explain their part in maintaining the environment whilst producing food’ and ‘Can farm cluster groups help to change a long overdue business and environmental culture?’

A farm visit provided an opportunity to discuss different land management practices and start the conversation for what happens in the future. 

Young farmers Emily Norton and David Goodwin talked about developing and expanding farm businesses and their aim to integrate good practice messages to retailers and consumers –  a remit championed by LEAF and highlighted during the annual Open Farm Sunday events. 

One of the key issues for Emily was how the integrated systems that support the environment and food production on small mixed UK farms can be recreated on intensive, single enterprise units.

Emily said: “Broader farm-scale and landscape scale projects allow environmental resilience and year-round dependability. There are multiple reasons why mixed farming is a good management option, from building soil organic matter to diversifying risk, and its environmental contribution could be recognised more.

“It was fascinating discussing these issues with young conservationists, because they can be highly wedded to the idea of public money for the work that they are doing - even more so than some farmers! Challenging them to think of alternative ways of financing their work in a CAP-free future is a necessary and useful resilience-building exercise. Their expertise is crucial and vital to challenge the status quo and champion the needs of the overlooked.”

The event prompted ongoing discussion on social media about the farmed environment and the opportunities it can provide for a variety of associated industries. Members can continue the conversation using #farmenviro30 on social media and future collaborative work is being planned.

01 November 2017

From 8-9 November at the NEC Birmingham, the Farm Business Innovation Show will be combining 9,000 visitors, 200 seminars and 500 exhibitors, with workshops, live debates, and the top industry experts who are leading the way in rural diversification, all under one roof!

Why? Because with the uncertainty of Brexit threatening the stability of the rural UK, it is more important than ever to focus on how to make sure that the future is secure.  A proven way to do this is through diversification.  By making sure that a rural business is not wholly reliant on one form of income, it makes the entire business more secure.  The Farm Business Innovation Show is the event designed to provide you with this security.

But another factor that farmers and rural business owners have to consider is, literally, into whose hands will these businesses be falling?

The next generation has a solid base for making sure that UK farms and rural businesses remain stable, making the Farm Business Innovation Show the perfect place for our young farmers, landowners, estate owners, and rural entrepreneurs to find the inspiration, advice and resources they need to grow, diversify and evolve their business.

The event is completely free, and this year’s keynote speakers include Michael Eavis - Worthy Farm and Glastonbury Festival, Doug Gurr - Head of Amazon UK, Stephen Jones - The British Quinoa Company, Paul Williamson - Hillside Brewery and Tom Amery - The Wasabi Company.

YFC members can register for a free ticket now at

For Tickets and Admission Enquiries: Adam Enguell - Event Consultant or call 0117 929 6088

For Press & Marketing Enquiries: Emma Webber - Marketing Executive or call 0117 929 6088


01 November 2017

A new farm safety scheme, launched by the Devon Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (FYFC), is on course for a national roll-out.

The innovative project, Growing Safer Farmers, has been piloted successfully in Devon so far and NFYFC Chairman and Farm Safety Ambassador Ed Ford, will now pilot the scheme in Essex. A first meeting has already taken place with machinery dealers in the county (see picture right) and the initial response has been positive. 

It is hoped that once the pilots have been reviewed that the scheme can be rolled out nationally with the support of the British Agricultural and Garden Machinery Association (BAGMA) and the Health & Safety Executive (HSE).

Speaking at the NFYFC Council meeting in Coventry, where Devon’s County Chair Claire Bellew presented the scheme, Ed Ford said he was excited to be involved in helping to support Devon to take the scheme wider.

“In my year as Chairman I wanted to highlight farm safety, I was not prepared for the high number of fatalities this year. Four members of NFYFC, four of my members, four of your members.

“Devon FYFC has taken the bull by the horns and I feel its scheme could change the way the industry thinks. Once we have trialled it in Essex and everyone involved is happy, we will work with Devon to roll it out nationally. It’s very exciting and we’re all passionate about it, so watch this space.”

Devon’s idea, which came about following the tragic death of Lauren Scott, one of the county’s YFC members, is to engage farm machinery dealers and agricultural engineers to always check the Power Take Off (PTO) drives on every machine they are working on. Machinery dealers are asked to issue a written report to the owner/operator concerning the condition of the PTO and if the owner declines to have any repairs made to faulty PTO guards, they are asked to sign paperwork to say they have been notified of the PTO problems.

So far, Devon’s pilot has shown that the vast majority of inspections that indicate a repair or replacement is required have been acted on by the owner/operator. The machinery has then been repaired to ensure it is safe and meets the safety regulations, which have been in place for more than 60 years. 

Nick Creasy, Operations Manger for Devon FYFC, said: “We are so pleased with the positive responses from both the farmers and machinery companies. In the first four months of the project we have seen 460 repairs and replacements completed.  This has got to make things safer for the people operating these machines.”  

01 November 2017

YFC members can now learn more about how their club functions in a new Curve training module called Fundamentals.

The course, which can be delivered at club level by NFYFC trainers, aims to explain what makes YFC different to other youth clubs and why it needs a constitution.

The 1.5 hour course will help you to understand how YFC works as a charity and how to make the most of your club.

Club Officers from Leicestershire and Rutland FYFC participated in a pilot of the Fundamentals Curve module as part of their Club Officer Training Weekend.

Emma Lovegrove, County Organiser from Leicestershire and Rutland, said that the officers found the course very useful.

“Some of our officers had never seen the Constitution let alone read it! Members now have a greater understanding of the Constitution and its importance. As trainers we also learnt a lot too! Many of us didn’t know that associate members should be elected into the club or that County Organisers should attend Club Advisory meetings.”

Emma said she would definitely recommend the course to other YFC members. “The constitution is a difficult topic to get members excited about but it’s a really important one, like many Curve modules, the Fundamentals one educates member in a fun and enjoyable way.”

The Fundamentals course is one of 19 Curve modules that YFCs can deliver on a club night. The courses are all around 1.5 hours each and can be delivered by an NFYFC trainer in your county.

If you are interested in running the training session in your YFC, contact your County Office to find out who your nearest NFYFC trainer is or contact Josie Murray for more information.


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