National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

23 May 2019

An opportunity to learn more about crop protection from leading industry figures gave 24-year old Chloe Lockhart from Warwickshire the chance to broaden her YFC experience even further. Chloe shares her experience of attending the Crop Protection Association’s Annual Conference in May.

Why did you want to go the Crop Protection’s Annual Conference? 

I saw an email from NFYFC AGRI offering a YFC member a sponsored place to the Crop Protection Association’s annual conference and general meeting. I sent a tentative email explaining my current job as a combinable crops adviser for the NFU, and how I felt the conference would be really interesting. As luck would have it the space was still available.

What happened at the conference?

The speakers were excellent and it was refreshing to hear positive attitudes at a time when things in the agricultural industry can be so challenging and uncertain.

The speakers came from completely different areas of agriculture ranging from novel work on slug patches at Harper Adams University to vertical ‘aeroponics’ – cultivating salad and herb crops via root irrigation stacked in sheds or underground. 

There was also a discussion about niche cropping methods and whether they would ever become commonplace on farms and how wide the farming system could reach. It was interesting to think how farming certain crops may change in the future, but there was broad agreement that broad acre field crops will always play a part.

It was fantastic to meet new people in the industry at lunch afterwards, as well as catching up with various people I had previously met.

What do you think about these opportunities that become available through YFC?

Being a part of a YFC has given me immense opportunity over the last ten years but, I didn’t realise what it has done and can continue to do for me in terms of personal and career development.

I joined young farmers when I was 13 and have enjoyed many years of socialising alongside committee roles and gaining associated skills from a relatively young age. I’m sure these experiences held me in good stead for when I moved onto university, then into a graduate role and now in my employment with the NFU. I now use all the skills I used to dread, such as public speaking and talking on the telephone.

YFC has given me so many incredible experiences, including being in the Ballroom Dancing competition finals in Blackpool a few years ago.

Would you recommend other YFC members get involved with industry opportunities like this one when they become available?

Keep an eager eye out for future events or places that YFC has the capacity to take you to - there are so many opportunities available to support young people’s development so grab them with both hands.

I can’t thank YFC enough for the years of friendship and laughter, but everyone should recognise the skills it also gives you in terms of your personal and professional development.

NFYFC's AGRI Steering Group has recently recorded a video about Crop Protection that you can watch here. 




23 May 2019

Somerset Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (FYFC) is celebrating its 85th birthday this year, and will mark this special milestone at the Royal Bath & West Show from 29 May-1 June, whee all YFC members can save £10 off the ticket price

The Somerset FYFC marquee at the Show is themed around the 85th celebration, with current and ex-young farmers encouraged to share their memories on a memory tree, which will bloom as the week goes on. A timeline will feature the locations of all the Royal Bath & West Shows, the dates YFC clubs were formed and landmark farming dates. 

One Somerset family have been YFC members right from the start when the Portbury, Yatton and Nailsea group merged to form North Somerset YFC in 1932. One of the founding members was George Withers from Clapton-in-Gordano: Along with his twin brother, John, these 15-year olds were well-known throughout the YFC and the showing circuit. George’s special interest was Large White pigs, with which he had many showing successes, including at the Bath & West Show, which in earlier years moved location each year.

By 1938 there were over 1,000 members of Somerset YFCs – and being in his twenties when WW2 broke out, George was a member in a time when rationing and petrol tokens were in force.  Members were only issued petrol tokens for meetings, not for dances, so to get around this the members arranged dances to follow meetings. George was a supporter of the branch long after he was too old to attend, and went on to become president of North Somerset YFC in 1988, remaining in the post for several years.

Although petrol tokens were long gone by the time his daughter Carol joined North Somerset YFC in 1962, aged 17, it was still uncommon to have a car. “We used to borrow our parents’ cars to get to meetings, or arrange lifts,” said Carol, who remained a member until she was married.

The family have all met their partners through YFC. Carol remembers she was encouraged to join after her parents thought her current boyfriend was unsuitable. “They thought I would find the right person in Young Farmers, and I obviously did,” she said.

She met her husband, Richard Gell, at North Somerset YFC. Their son, Andrew, duly followed in their footsteps, joining the club when he was 17 in 1985, playing an active role and remaining a member until the age limit of 26.

Likewise, Andrew’s wife, Sarah, was a member of Wrington & District YFC, the first club to be formed in Somerset, taking on many roles throughout her time in the club even after she and Andrew married in 1999. When away at college in Plymouth Sarah joined Devon club, Roborough, for a short time and was pleased that YFC was there to turn to. “I hated being away from home but joining the local club made me feel less homesick,” she said.

The whole family have made friends for life through the YFC, with whom they still regularly meet up.  “One of the good things about young farmers is that it’s run by the members for the members – the advisory don’t get involved unless you want them to,” said Andrew and Sarah's son George who is a current member. “Club numbers do vary each year with people going to university or being out of age, but we’re optimistic about the future of our club.”

The meetings on the club's programme are much the same as in Carol’s day. Stock-judging, talks from companies, ten pin bowling and visits to local businesses to name a few, as well as practice in public speaking and sports. “Hockey was a big part of young farmers – we used to play on Sunday mornings on Weston sands,” says Carol. Hockey is something that has continued down the generations, with their daughter Sarah playing for Somerset at South West Area weekends.

George revealed how things have changed since his parents' day in YFC. “We don’t have as many regular dances and they aren’t in village halls, but the other elements remain.” The introduction of technology has certainly changed things massively. In Andrew’s day, events were listed on a monthly green newsletter, with further details obtained by calling people via the landline. “Now, social media is how we hear about what’s going on,” added George.

YFC members can save £10 off the ticket price to The Royal Bath & West Show from 29 May – 1 June. For more information see here. 


23 May 2019

A new educational video, recorded by The National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (NFYFC), aims to highlight the role crop protection plays in food production and the career opportunities available in agronomy.

The film, which was the brainchild of NFYFC’s Agriculture and Rural Issues (AGRI) Steering Group, features an interview with award winning agronomist Sean Sparling, Chairman of the Association of Independent Crop Consultants (AICC).

In a conversation with fellow agronomist and NFYFC’s AGRI Vice Chairman George Baxter from Cambridgeshire Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (FYFC), Sparling explains the importance of crop protection in the food process.

“Everything we do is geared to the health of the plant and protecting the environment. What we’re trying to do is to ensure the food we produce at the end of the process is safe for people to eat and there will be plenty of it,” explained Sparling. 

With 30,000 species of plant pests and 10,000 species of insect pests, the video shows how agronomists follow an integrated approach to pest management.

“80% of the insects in an oil seed rape canopy for example are beneficial,” reveals Sparling. “They’re friends to us and we don’t want to damage these. I would say in nine out of 10 of my visits on farm we don’t resort to spraying.”

Filmed in Lincolnshire and supported by the Crop Protection Association, the video demonstrates NFYFC’s partnerships with industry bodies and its commitment to helping highlight careers in agriculture. 

The film follows on from a Defra-funded project with LEAF Education to develop a training session called Future Farming that is available for both YFCs and year 9 school children. NFYFC is keen to spread the message about the many career paths available for young people in the food and farming industries.

“It’s a very hands-on, practical video that shows two agronomists having a chat about their work and why they do what they do,” says 27 year-old George Baxter. “We hope the information both Sean and I share about growing and protecting crops will explain the role of the agronomist and encourage those thinking of subject and career choices to explore this line of work.”

Sarah Mukherjee, Chief Executive of the Crop Protection Association, said: “This informative video follows on from the Crop Protection’s Annual Conference, where there was agreement from industry that a collaborative effort is needed to send out clear messages regarding the role of science in supporting the production of safe and affordable food.

“We are delighted to be working with NFYFC on this project to help share more information about the importance of crop protection and roles in the industry.”



21 May 2019

After a Honda ATV was stolen from one YFC member’s smallholding he was keen to do more to tackle rural crime – and to find out how large manufacturers were dealing with the issue too.

As well as being personally affected by rural crime, Joe Holmes, from Worth Valley YFC, was also interested because of his involvement with his club’s Fields of Vision initiative – a WhatsApp-inspired project that aims to encourage local rural communities to report crime.

Honda invited Joe to find out more about the tracking devices that the company is offering its customers free with every new purchase.

Joe visited the Datatool facility in Preston to see how the devices are made and to learn more about how they are helping victims of crime to recover their stolen vehicles.

“We haven’t replaced our quad bike since it was stolen a few years ago,” said Joe. “We decided to just walk around our 50 acres to care for the animals we have instead of risking another break-in. So, I was really interested to see how the tracking devices could have helped my family to not only apprehend the criminals but retrieve our quad bike too!”

At Datatool, Joe saw the huge machines that make the 44,000 circuit boards per hour that go into making the tracking devices and other products. He was also impressed that not all the production lines were automated.

“It’s an impressive factory and good to see this product being manufactured in Britain. I also liked seeing local people, and not just machines, involved in working on the devices. That human touch makes sure it has the right quality.”

Joe was also able to witness a ‘staged’ theft by the Honda team as they attached the Datatool GPS Adventure TrakKING devices to a motorcycle before driving it away. If a vehicle with one of these devices is moved without the key being used or if the engine isn’t running, the device sends an alert to Datatool. And that works 24/7 too, so it doesn’t matter if this happens during the night.

“It was so immediate,” said Joe who got to watch the fake theft on the screens. “As soon as the bike started moving it popped up on the screens. Datatool gets a notification that it’s moved and they ring the owner to make sure it is a theft. The subscription covers them tracking it and contacting the police.

“If this had been a real theft, the police would have been alerted and they would have possibly been able to apprehend those involved and recover the bike.”

All of Datatool’s call centres are based in the UK and when any suspicious activity is recorded – such as a vehicle being moved without the key – then the tracking device sends a signal to the Datatool team. They always contact the owner of the vehicle first before alerting the police. Around 97% of all vehicles with a tracking device will be returned to their owners following a theft.

Joe said devices like these were a brilliant help in fighting rural crime. “Our Fields of Vision project relies on people seeing suspicious activity and reporting it. The Datatool device works 24/7 and the technology is so up-to-date and so accurate as it can pinpoint the exact location of your stolen vehicle.

“I was also really impressed with the safety aspect in that the device can send a signal out if the ATV rolls over while being driven. Honda has ensured that it is included on all the devices added to their vehicles, which I was really impressed with as this is as important as crime prevention.”

The Datatool TrakKING Adventure GPS is complimentary with every new purchase from Honda.

Andrew Parr, Honda’s Sales Operations Department Manager, said: “We take safety and security incredibly seriously and wanted to highlight the positive role manufacturers can play in tackling rural crime.”

For more information about Honda’s and the Datatool TrakKING Adventure GPS  tool visit www.honda.co.uk/atv 

This article is sponsored by Honda.  



17 May 2019

An original script and handmade costumes helped Eardisley YFC steal the show at The National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs’ (NFYFC) Performing Arts final, sponsored by Isuzu UK.

The national competition – which was a sell-out – was held at the Spa Centre in Leamington Spa on 12 May, and followed on from the NFYFC’s Annual General Meeting, which was held at Stoneleigh Park. Five teams competed at the national final after making it through County and regional rounds.

The Herefordshire club has reached the national final five times before but this is the first year Eardisley has clinched the top trophy. The club’s 40-minute performance of Down the Garden Path was written by former members of the club and involved a cast of 31 members ranging from 10 to 24 years old.

Eardisley YFC’s Club Secretary Zoe Whittall said: “We are absolutely buzzing, we can’t believe it. Everyone who wanted to be in the play was in it. Everyone who wanted a part had a part and we’ve had an absolutely fantastic time doing it. We’ve been to five national Entertainments Finals and we have finally won one!

“Everyone has been fantastic and so enthusiastic and keen to get involved and that’s what our club’s all about and we’ve loved every second of it!”

Eardisley YFC faced stiff competition from four other teams in the Final including Caldbeck YFC in Cumbria, Buxton YFC in Derbyshire, a team from Cornwall Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (FYFC) and Guilsfield YFC in Montgomeryshire.

It was a tough decision for the three NODA adjudicators who admitted the standard was extremely high.

West Midlands NODA Regional Councillor Ian Cox told a packed auditorium: “Any performance that begins with Vivaldi’s Spring is to be admired and we saw that in Eardisley with their particular performance. The puppetry in that show was of the absolute top quality and it impressed us enormously.”

It was a special moment for Buxton YFC when the winners of the best actor and actress awards were announced. The two awards went to brother and sister Samuel and Lydia Slack for the characters they played in the production When I Grow Up that was written by their father Peter Slack – a former Buxton YFC member.

Sam played a comical granddad figure that he says was based on his own Granddad who sadly passed away six months ago and Lydia took inspiration from her idol Victoria Wood to play her comedy role as a sheep farmer.

Buxton YFC’s production also came second in the competition and Sam said they were delighted to have reached the final.

“We are absolutely overwhelmed that we even got this far,” said Sam. ”It’s dad who has helped us and pushed us to get here really. But it was an overall team effort from everyone in the club who pulled together to make this such an amazing performance.”

George Wallis, Isuzu Head of Marketing, said: “Isuzu (UK) Ltd are proud to sponsor such a fantastic competition with such talented young farmers. Congratulations to Eardisley YFC on picking up the win. All the clubs that made the final were a credit to the farming community with their amazing performances. We wish all of them every success in their farming careers.”

The aim of the NFYFC Performing Arts competition is to encourage YFC members to work together to produce and perform an act using skills learnt through training and practice. It encourages skills in teamwork, writing and communication – as well as developing dancing, singing and theatrical talent.

The Performing Arts competition was also supported by the William A. Cadbury Charitable Trust.

Eardisley YFC will be staging their performance of Down the Garden Path on 7 June in an Open Air Theatre style production at The Dairy House, Eardisley from 7pm. Tickets available on the door - £6 for adults and £3 for children. All proceeds will go back into supporting the club. 


15 May 2019

A positive attitude and a great idea to help support YFC members, helped Cumbria’s County Chairman Eamon Monaghan win NFYFC’s Senior Member of the Year competition, supported by Tama. 

The 24-year-old from Skelton YFC successfully sourced a £10,000 grant from the Cumbria Community Foundation to deliver alcohol and drugs awareness sessions to YFC members in the County over the next three years.

Eamon recognised a need for more education around drugs and alcohol abuse and wanted to do something proactive to support younger members. The project works in partnership with The Well Communities, a not-for-profit community service provider specialising in supporting people with addictions and mental health issues.

Eamon explained: “Cumbria FYFC is very proud of our proactive approach to drug and alcohol use in our County. In modern day society it is a very naive attitude to think that drugs aren’t around you and it is important that everyone is aware of the effects and how to deal with them. It’s important that County Federations take a pro-active stance against drug and alcohol abuse.”

Eamon made it through his Club, County and Area rounds before competing against the six other Area finalists at the national final of the Senior Member of the Year competition in Leamington Spa on 12 May.

The final involved a formal interview with the judges as well as stage interviews during the Entertainments finals. On stage, in front of a packed auditorium Eamon was asked his opinion of social media, to which he replied positively about the improvements it can make to communication with members when used effectively.

On winning the competition, Eamon said: “I set off with a goal to come and do my best for Cumbria and our members and I went and smashed it, so I’m absolutely over the moon! Hopefully it encourages others to give it a go – anyone can do it.”

Judge Bryce MacKellar explained why he and the other judges had chosen Eamon as their overall winner. 

“All the finalists had really positive examples to talk about and are offering so much to Young Farmers but Eamon had just gone that little bit further,” explained Bryce.

“He took some difficult decisions with issues that were affecting his County and he did something about it instead of just pushing it under the carpet. He has done a lot for his club and County Federation and in the Northern Area.

“Eamon is a very well-rounded character with a positive attitude who doesn’t shy away from difficult decisions – and that really impressed the judges.”

As supporters of the competition, Tama’s UK Commercial Manager Warren Tatton said: “Eamon is a worthy winner of this year’s award.

“These issues have a huge impact on our farming community and to see him and Cumbria FYFC take such a proactive approach in tackling these subjects is a positive sign for the future.”

To see all seven Senior Member of the Year finalists visit here



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