National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

15 February 2019

Challenges such as environmental land management, changing markets and entering the industry have been discussed by young farmers and industry representatives. 

The YFC East Midlands AGRI event, called Take Control of Your Future, brought together YFC members, conservationists, and representatives from the industry and Defra to take part in a series of workshops and discussions looking at different areas of farming in the future.

The debates looked at the commercial realities farmers face – including starting in business, food security and the eating habits of the nation. Discussions also focused on the responsibilities farmers have as land owners and managers to the environment, including conservation and climate change, and how that can be managed alongside commercial pressures.

The removal of the Basic Payment System was a hot topic, with young farmers questioning if landlords might lower rents. The future Environmental Land Management scheme (ELMS) could be key to answering that question and discussions between delegates and Rosie East from Defra’s ELMS design team was a chance for all sides to share views.

Greg Parkes, a member of Market Bosworth YFC and a farmer in beef, sheep and diversification, said: “Two of the things that came out of it for me was the need to educate farmers to become better communicators to sell their story to the general public. Running alongside that was the need to educate consumers to understand farming and where food comes from.”

Andrew Clark, an independent ecologist and film maker, showed his short film, The Carbon Farmer, which presented a positive view for farming on peatland and its contribution to lowering atmospheric carbon levels.

“We’ve had some brilliant discussions. It has been really great to hear from so many people in farming and to learn from them how things can be better. They are the best authority on how we can make a viable environmental land management scheme in the future,” said Andrew.

The weekend ended with a tour of the Chatsworth Estate Farm, where manager David Howlett showed his high welfare cattle and sheep that are grazed on the farmland and moorland surrounding Chatsworth.

Chair of A Focus on Nature and conservationist Pete Cooper said: “Today has been absolutely fascinating and I have loved it. There are new challenges ahead in terms of how we give advice on land management and how we apply farming conservation but by getting each other’s views and working together we can make great things happen.”  


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