National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

31 January 2019

What’s it like when you’re asked to represent YFC at a meeting with external organisations? Two YFC members share their experiences. 

Stephen Taylor, Chair of Vale O’ Lune YFC shares his views after attending an NFU Business Symposium in London 

Where was the meeting?

In London and I had to set off from Botton Head Farm in Lancashire at 5.30am in the pickup. I had to use some of my brew to thaw the lock to get into the pickup as it was -4c.

I got the 6.30am train to London and had to navigate the Underground, which was hot, stuffy and over-crowded!

I received a warm welcome from anyone I spoke to at the event though and they were keen to see the next generation coming through to NFU. Especially when I was from such a great area of the country, which was otherwise not represented.

What happened at the meeting?

Guy Smith, NFU's Deputy President, gave the welcoming address, before Paul Aplin President of the ICAEW talked about the autumn budget and Brexit (uncertainty and investment). Paul gave advice about resilience in the event of interest rates rising and said to ensure that all costing and figures are up to date and in place. He also advised that pushing for productivity should mean increasing efficiencies rather than just producing more and more.

The most inspirational talk of the day was from Patrick Hook of P.D. Hook (Hatcheries) Ltd. They hatch 9.5 million chicks per week over eight UK sites after starting out from Patrick's grandfather’s small chicken shed. They employ 2,000 people and I was interested to hear how positive he was about using people to do the work as opposed to robot technology. However, he did outline some areas they have been able to mechanise.

Jane King, CEO of AHDB, spoke about the work the AHDB is doing for the levy fee, promoting productivity and efficiency. They are working with farmers, identifying what holds us back with online tools and interactive forums such as ‘what works’ and the ‘Brexit calculator’ and ‘farm bench’. She also explained how they are investing in a programme for training and inspiring the next generation and new entrants.

The final speaker of the day was Nick von Westonholz, NFU director of EU Exit and National Trade. He highlighted lots of threats, but also possible opportunities for the next farming generation. However, what will actually happen is still unknown. There are three possibilities Deal, No Deal and Remain and the prospects for British farming are very uncertain. (See more information here about the government’s advice regarding a no-deal Brexit).

To end the meeting there was open discussion with questions from the floor to a panel of speakers that included Tim Mordan, Deputy Director, Farming Productivity at Defra.

They answered a number of questions, including those about legislation to support tenant farmers in the Agriculture Bill. They also discussed what drives confidence in the industry and investment. The question was posed: ‘what would you ask Santa for Christmas to boost confidence to invest in farming?’ The answers given were along the lines of: Knowledge of what will happen in the future, plans of trade deals and pricing structure along with security.

Did you meet anyone?

In the breaks I was able to chat to people from the NFU and was able to network with people and ask their thoughts on the day.


AGRI Steering Group member and deputy CLA rep Greg Colebrook also represented YFC last November at the CLA Rural Business Conference.

What was the conference about? 

A day that focused on rural diversification. Secretary of State Michael Gove spoke about future food and farming policies and there was a wide range of business case studies. These included restaurants, agroforestry, commercial letting, residential development, motorway service stations, a wedding venue, a cookery school and organic veg box schemes.

What was the highlight of your experience?

An inspiring presentation from Henry Dimbleby, founder of LEON fast food chain about his company’s business model and a fast food ethos that’s good for you, giving an interesting insight into the way we might eat food in the future.

Did you enjoy representing YFC? 

It was a very worthwhile conference and I left feeling very inspired. I would recommend it to anyone in the future.

Find out more about representing YFC and getting involved with the AGRI Steering Group.  

30 January 2019

Young Farmers will be discussing their agricultural futures at an NFYFC AGRI event in February organised with NFYFC’s East Midlands AGRI group. 

The weekend event, called Take Control of Your Future, will include debate on topics around the environment, sustainable conservation agriculture, food security and agri-schemes. There will be five themed workshops, including speakers from Defra, the Chatsworth Estate, A Focus on Nature and the NFU – as well as young farmers.

AGRI’s Steering Group Vice Chair David Goodwin will be hosting one of the workshops with Rosie East from Defra’s Environmental Land Management (ELM) Scheme Design team to discuss conservation farming.

Other workshop topics include:

  • From farm to retail – led by Chatsworth Farm Manager David Howlett
  • Start farming from scratch but be resilient – new entrant Ben Thorley
  • Conservation collaboration – Peter Cooper from A Focus on Nature
  • What lies ahead for farmers? – NFU East Midlands Regional Director Gordon Corner

On Sunday, delegates will be given a tour of the Chatsworth Estate’s farm and shop.

AGRI Steering Group Chair James Hutchinson said: “We held a joint event with A Focus on Nature in 2017 and we're delighted that AFON's chair Pete Cooper will join us as well as a Defra ELM team member Rosie East so that we can all explore our farming and environmental future. With such a diverse range of speakers and the Chatsworth visit, it's a weekend not to be missed and devised to help with our farming future."

Book your place on the event here.


Saturday 9 February 2019

12.30 pm Arrival and lunch

2.00 pm Introduction

2.30 pm Themed workshops

Group 1 - Rosie East from Defra's ELM - Environmental Land Management - (Scheme Design team) and David Goodwin (Warwickshire FYFC) - conservation farming

Group 2 - David Howlett (Chatsworth Farm Manager) - from farm to retail

Group 3 - Ben Thorley (Derbyshire new entrant) - start farming from scratch but be resilient

Group 4 - Peter Cooper (A Focus On Nature) - conservation collaboration

Group 5 - Gordon Corner (NFU East Midlands Regional Director ) - what lies ahead for farmers?

3:45 pm Feedback from workshops

4:15 pm Tea

4:45 pm Panel discussion

5:45 pm Summary

6:00 pm Drinks and supper

10.30 pm End

Sunday 10 February 2019

8:30 am Breakfast at Agricultural Business Centre, Bakewell Market

9:30 am Coach to Chatsworth Estate

10:00 am Estate, farm, farm shop visit

12.00 pm Return to Bakewell Market for 12.30 pm - depart

30 January 2019

Meet Jacob Anthony – a Young Farmer from Bridgend YFC in Wales in the first of our monthly membership profiles! He may not know how to 'make YFC things' but apparently he does know how to throw some moves. Oh and he's got a pretty impressive trophy under his farming belt.

When did you join YFC?

I joined Bridgend Young Farmers club in 2007 at the age of 14.

Why did you join?

As my family have historically been heavily involved with Bridgend YFC (father, grandfather and grandmother are all past chairs) it was inevitable that I was going to want to follow in their footsteps and become a member of this fantastic club.

Why have you remained a member?

Once I joined there was never a fear of me not staying a member. I thoroughly enjoy all aspects of different competitions and appreciate the life skills they have taught me but to me the most important thing has been befriending likeminded individuals from across the county/country and being able to socialise with them at YFC functions/events.

Greatest achievement in YFC?

My greatest achievement in YFC was being Chairman of Bridgend when it was our family's turn to host the County Stockjudging competition and we welcomed members from across Glamorgan to our family farm. The day was a great success and ran like clockwork thanks to the army of friends and family of Bridgend YFC who kindly gave up their time to steward. The icing on the cake was when Bridgend won the overall Stockjudging shield – needless to say I was one very proud Club Chairman!

Greatest achievement outside of YFC?

My greatest achievement outside of YFC came in October 2018 when I was named the Farmers Weekly Young Farmer of the year, something I still have to pinch myself to believe, even to this day.

Top skill you’ve learnt from YFC?

Apart from the amazing dance moves that come in handy on a night out I would have to say that the top skill I have learnt in YFC is the ability to stand up and speak in front of people. The many public speaking and stage competitions that I have been lucky enough to participate in over the years has allowed me to gain the confidence to do this. It's a skill I don't think I would have gained if it wasn't for Young Farmers.

The best thing you’ve ever made with YFC?

Most people who know me, I am sure would say that 'making stuff' has never been my strong point in YFC competitions. I have entered the woodwork comps in the past just to help get entries for our club when needed, but with little success. So with that in mind I would have to say the best thing I have ever actually made in YFC is an hors d’oeuvre when I helped out two of our junior members to make up a team for the cookery competition. And even that was only a cherry tomato and piece of mozzarella on a stick! The judges must have been impressed though as they put us through to the next round. I think that decision was probably more to do with the delicious food the girls cooked up for the other courses though.

Three words to describe your club?

Hospitable. Enjoyable. Passionate.

Has YFC helped you in your career?

As a farmer I believe that YFC has helped me in my career by allowing me to meet people from across the agricultural industry who I have learnt many things from. I’ve taken these insights back to the business at home and some of these contacts have proved invaluable. Young Farmers has also given me the opportunities to engage with politicians and decision makers about the future direction of agriculture, something that I think all of us farming members should try and to do whenever the chance arises. 

Someone you would like to thank in YFC and why?

I would personally like to thank Robert and Gwyneth Williams, two members of Bridgend YFC's Advisory Committee, who always go that extra mile to help the club in any way they possibly can. Rob and Gwyneth have provided expert public speaking training for the full gambit of YFC competitions and not to mention always supplying copious amounts of tea and cake! If it wasn’t for people like Rob and Gwyneth giving up their time then YFC would be a very, very different organisation.These volunteers are the backbone of the best rural youth organisation in the world!

 If you would like to be profiled or you want to nominate a member of your club to be profiled by NFYFC, send an email request to Cheryl Liddle.  

30 January 2019

The next generation of farmers came out in force to support their place in the industry at the NFYFC’s and Rural Youth Project’s Fringe event at the Oxford Farming Conference (OFC) in January.

It was the first-time that NFYFC had held a fringe event during this high profile conference and it provided the perfect platform for young farmers to get their voices heard.

Sponsored by KUHN, the session was chaired by Farmers Weekly columnist and farm businessman Matthew Naylor and included presentations from the Rural Youth Project’s (RYP) Jane Craigie and NFYFC’s Sarah Palmer. Both outlined achievements of their organisations, including the Rural Youth Ideas Festival and research from 2018 and NFYFC’s role in representing YFC members over major agri issues such as the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and next generation considerations for the new Agriculture Bill.

Opening the session Sian Pritchard, from sponsors KUHN, emphasised her pride in the industry, the career opportunities available and KUHN’s commitment to supporting young farmers.

Young farmers from England, Scotland Ireland and Wales, including OFC scholar Lee Pritchard, a livestock farmer from Glamorgan, shared their stories about the challenges involved in progressing a career in the industry today.

Lee said: “The NFYFC fringe event opened my eyes to just how bright our future is when you saw how full the room was with people – and not just young people – wanting to see the younger generation getting on.”

There was standing room only during the session, which attracted OFC scholars, emerging leaders, industry CEOs, university principals, farmers young and old, NFU Next Generation Forum chair, vice and NFU economist and politicians. 

Ben Thorley travelled to Oxford from Derbyshire to explain how he had achieved success without a farming background. College, work experience and a lot of hard work helped him to become a farmer – but not without sacrifices as he confessed his wife Dawn is often ‘a single parent’ due to his work schedule.

There was also opportunity for young farmers from Radnor FYFC to air their future policy wishes via a video they had recorded to show their passion for farming and food production.

AGRI Chair James Hutchinson said: “Coupled with NFYFC’s work from the EU Referendum result to the present day, young farmers’ opinions, concerns and future policy requests have been shared far and wide. This fringe event, supported by KUHN, has provided another way for young rural people to get their views heard. Young people living and working in a rural environment have been well-represented, but there’s a lot still to be done.”

30 January 2019

New resources from AHDB will help YFC members share positive messages about the food industry. 

Understanding how to respond to the latest consumer trends and campaigns can be difficult for those that want to support the industry.

NFYFC has teamed up with AHDB to provide information, social media assets and videos that can be used to help YFC members celebrate the industry. The information guide includes popular hashtags and shares advice on the dos and don’ts of how to respond to negative posts.

You can also download dairy social media assets, information and links to videos on the NFYFC website to use and share to support the industry. Or you can retweet or share any of NFYFC’s posts that the Federation make using these assets.

NFYFC’s AGRI Steering Group Chairman David Goodwin said: “It’s important to have positive, consistent and accurate industry messages to share to help support the industry. The information pack and assets provided by AHDB are a great resource and back up NFYFC’s social media Curve training too.”

There’s news and there’s fake news and you can get to grips with the reality of consumer trends better by visiting the AHDB Consumer Focus page that contains facts and stats to back up your posts. 

And if tackling social media issues is becoming a hot topic of debate in your club, why not update and train your YFC members, leaders and supporters on social media using the NFYFC Curve module The Power of Social Media?

30 January 2019

NFYFC is encouraging its members to read and watch advice from the government to help them be as prepared as possible should there be a no-deal Brexit this spring. 

The government has prepared leaflets and short videos to help individuals and businesses to get ready for the changes. There is also specific advice for those working in agriculture.   

The information from the government prepares traders for the possibility of a no-deal EU exit at the UK border and includes detailed information on the government website.   

The short video below sets out the points government is calling on businesses to consider ahead of Brexit on 29 March 2019.

NFU members can also access a Brexit toolkit to help them navigate the UK's departure from the EU. 

AHDB has also created a dedicated area of its website for Brexit offering advice and information to help people through the process.


Designed by Kevyn Williams