National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

26 June 2019

Being open and honest were highlighted as key priorities for farming families during a debate about succession, organised by NFYFC and supported by Defra at Cereals 2019. 

The event, which involved experts from Savills, succession facilitator Siân Bushell and young farmers, was held on the first day of Cereals in June. The panel and audience discussed personal challenges they had faced with succession and the experts offered tips on ways to move forward.

Speaking during the debate, Siân Bushell explained why succession was a conversation all family businesses needed to have.

“It’s the future of the business but it’s the future of the family as well, so it’s incredibly important to sit down and have that conversation,” said Siân. “If you can’t manage it yourselves get some support as there are lots of organisations out there that can help. Don’t bury it and think it’s going to go away because it won’t. Treat it positively – another generation wants to carry on the business. Be open and honest from an early stage and keep on talking about it.”   

Ashley Lilley who is a director in Savills’ Food and Farming team encouraged everyone to make those first important (and often free) enquiries to help get started with succession issues – and highlighted the guides available on the NFYFC website. Georgina Sweeting, a farm business consultant from Savills, and a former member of East Riding of Yorkshire FYFC, joined Ashley on the panel and highlighted the importance of future planning for young farmers.

“It’s important to discuss with your parents and grandparents from the very beginning what you want to get out of farming, if you even want to farm or if you want to do something completely different,” said Georgina. “That way, everyone knows where they stand and what’s going on. Then after that you can consider bringing in the professionals.”

AGRI Vice Chairman George Baxter from Cambridgeshire reflected on his personal situation and advised other young farmers to talk to their families about their aspirations.

“Don’t be afraid to go off and do your own thing but make sure you have the conversations with your family beforehand in case you ever want to come back. If you don’t talk about it no one knows what’s going on and it could create a disconnect between you and your family.” 

The debate, which was chaired by AGRI Chairman David Goodwin, also included a showing of the video We Really Need to Talk, which raises awareness of the need for succession planning and was recorded last year with the support of Defra and AHDB.

25 June 2019

Ideas for future competitions, training achievements and National Young Farmers’ Week were among the discussions at the June NFYFC Council meeting.  

Elected YFC members from across England and Wales represented their counties over the two days by taking part in the five steering groups on the Saturday and then meeting as a national Council on Sunday.

Each steering group is focused on an area of the Federation’s programme of work and their input helps to steer future plans.

In the Events and Marketing Steering Group new event ideas were discussed, as well as exciting plans for National Young Farmers’ Week.

The group agreed to support clubs with more information and resources in the build up to National Young Farmers’ Week, which this year will be held from 30 September to 4 October.

Lucy Stowell, Events and Markting Steering Group Chairman, said: “National Young Farmers’ Week is a fantastic opportunity for all clubs to increase their membership numbers by hosting events and promoting what they do in their local communities. By using the resources available you can help to raise the profile of your YFC and the nationwide network of YFCs available to rural young people.”


Changes to Competitions were debated in the Competitions Steering Group and Council agreed that regional finals would no longer take place for Public Speaking and Performing Arts. Feedback had shown that YFC members were finding it increasingly difficult to spare an extra weekend for competing in the regional finals and so now this eliminator round has been removed.

The Competitions Steering Group, Chaired by Dewi Parry, was also delighted to report that more than 100 YFC members had benefited from the subsidised British Wool Blue Seal shearing courses.

Dewi said: “We are really grateful to British Wool for offering this discounted training and helping YFC members to learn new skills. The Blue Seal is a requirement of the NFYFC Sheep Shearing competition, which is encouraging more of our members to receive this professional training.”

The competitions for 2020-21 were also confirmed at the meeting and they include Pantomime, Street Dancing, Jump Rope, Cube Exhibit, Auctioneering, Rounders, Mixed Rush Hockey and Mixed Dodgeball.


The AGRI Steering Group was able to report positively about recent events and resources that had been developed and delivered and of industry partnerships and representation for YFCs. AGRI’s Vice Chairman George Baxter featured in a video about crop protection to highlight the role of agronomy. George was also part of NFYFC’s panel discussion about succession that was held at Cereals in Lincolnshire earlier in June.

George said: “It has been a busy and successful few months for AGRI and we’re proud that we have been promoting young farmers’ voices in agriculture. Our next venture will be launching a new training module about succession as well as regional engagement events and new business and tenancy training. Plans are also underway for next year’s AGRI Forum.”


Thousands of YFC members have benefited from training so far in this membership year with 2,772 Curve certificates being issued – exceeding the target set by the Personal Development Steering Group.

Marcus Bailey, Chairman of the Group, said: “It’s brilliant that so many members have been taking part in NFYFC’s training programme. These are skills that will help improve people’s personal and professional lives. We hope these numbers keep rising.”

In addition, the steering group discussed the new club resource called YFC on Track which is aimed at helping clubs fulfil their charitable obligations.  This resource will be available in September.

Members of the group also discussed the YFC Travel programme and have chosen Peru, Vietnam and Ghana as group travel destinations in 2020.

Younger voices 

The Youth Forum also met during the weekend to share the views of younger members of the Federation and explore more opportunities for under 18s.

The Forum is looking at how other organisations run large scale social and residential events that cater for young people. They will also be linking up with Psych-logical to take part in a project looking at the impact of devices on young people’s wellbeing.

The Forum will also be putting forward two motions to the British Youth Council’s Annual Council Meeting in September. One motion will raise awareness of the facts around agriculture and the environment and the other will highlight the importance of including food, farming and countryside education in primary and secondary school curriculums.

Council representatives are now tasked with filtering all of the information from Council back to their counties. Please contact your County if you have not been informed of the updates from the meeting.

For more information about NFYFC Council see here. 


18 June 2019

Young people aged 10 to 26 have been developing key agricultural and rural skills so they can compete in The National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs’ (NFYFC) competition finals on 6 July at Staffordshire County Showground.

The event, which will involve more than 500 finalists competing in 13 different competitions, is one of the highlights of the year for members of Young Farmers’ Clubs (YFCs).

A new auctioneering competition, sponsored by SAI Global, has been added to the competitions programme this year where finalists will be asked to value and auction three items for a mock auction. The competition will be run like a standard auction with members of the audience able to ‘bid’ on the items.

Competing teams have been practising for this competition at County and Area rounds before winning their place in the national final. SAI Global will be joining the competing teams at the Showground and will also help to judge the competition.

Robin Levin, Head of Agriculture from SAI Global, said: “As a leading global whole farm assurance provider, SAI Global is delighted to be able to offer our support for the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs’ Auctioneering competition.

“All Young Farmers have the unique opportunity of learning a range of important skills to apply to many different situations, none more important than understanding one of the great, farming, transactional experiences and institutions – that of auctioneering.”

Farm Skills competition  

NFYFC is also running a Farm Skills competition aimed at improving YFC members’ agricultural proficiencies and farm safety awareness. Most of the equipment provided for the Farm Skills competition is being generously provided by B&B Tractors in Staffordshire with kit from Honda, KUHN and Massey Ferguson being used.

As well as first aid tasks and challenges involving a road vehicle and flat bed trailer, competitors will also be asked to work with an ATV to hitch and lead a trailer.

The Farm Safety Foundation’s Yellow Wellies campaign will also be supporting a hazard perception section of the competition where teams will be asked to highlight safety issues when working at height and with machinery and power cables.

Anyone attending Competitions Day, who is over 16 years old, will this year be able to put their ATV skills to the test thanks to Honda who has organised for the European All-Terrain Vehicle Safety Institute (EASI) to join NFYFC at the Showground.

EASI will be running an ATV skills test and participants will be in with a chance of winning a pair of VIP hospitality tickets to a choice of British Superbike or British Touring Car Championship race days for one of the remaining races in the 2019 calendar. 

Participants in the EASI skills test (which is not one of the official NFYFC competitions so anyone can take part as long as they meet certain criteria*) will need to complete safety tasks and checks before riding an ATV as well as hitching, weaving and reversing an ATV with and without a trailer.

Steve Morris, Head of Power Products for Honda (UK) comments: “As a partner of the NFYFC we’re delighted to be supporting one of the biggest events in their calendar. Learning new skills is not just important to young people’s development but also their safety around the workplace.”

Clay Pigeon Shooting 

YFC members will also compete in a Fence Erecting competition, supported by ArcelorMittal Estate Wire, and a Clay Pigeon Shooting competition, sponsored by the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC).

This will be the second year that BASC has supported the Clay Pigeon Shooting competition and this year they will be bringing a shooting simulator for non-competitors to try shooting sports during the day.

The Clay Pigeon Shooting competition is held at Oakedge Shooting ground in Staffordshire and winners will receive a BASC goody bag and The Game Fair tickets – with the overall highest scoring winner also receiving a subscription to Field Sports magazine.

Hannah Davies, from BASC, said: “We are looking forward to supporting this event and helping to promote firearms safety through our sponsorship of the clay pigeon shooting competition.

"Shooting and conservation go hand-in-hand and it is great to be sharing those positive messages with the next generation of farmers. May we take this opportunity to wish all of this year’s finalists a fantastic day.”

As well as the more traditional agricultural competitions, YFC members will also be competing in a range of public speaking competitions and a Cube Exhibit created to the theme of Children’s Television.

During the afternoon, spectators at the event can enjoy NFYFC’s Ballroom Dancing and Show Choir competitions. Teams from across the country will perform to impress professional judges. 

Ballroom dancing competitors must perform a routine that could open a dancing show, such as Strictly Come Dancing.

NFYFC’s Competitions Chairman Dewi Parry, from Clwyd FYFC, said: “This year’s Competitions Day is set to be a spectacular showcase of the amazing talent that we have in YFC. Young rural people from across England and Wales, aged from 10 to 26, will be demonstrating their skills in a wide variety of tasks and showing that YFC is an organisation that teaches skills for life.

“A huge thank you to our sponsors who are supporting this event and are helping to ensure the development of key skills for the next generation of farmers.”

NFYFC’s Sports Day will be on Sunday 7 July and 300 competitors will take part in rounders, rugby and netball competitions at Stafford Grammar School in Staffordshire.   

*How to take part in the EASI Skills Test

To take part in the EASI Skills Test at Competitions Day, participants must:

  • Be aged 16 and over – Under 18s need parental confirmation of age and indemnity signature
  • Wear a long sleeved top, long trousers and over the ankle boots (helmets & gloves will be provided)
  • Have proof of ATV experience like a skills card. Verbal claim is acceptable if they agree to do a pre-test there and then

The winning tickets include: breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, drinks throughout the day, garage tour, grid walk and rider/driver Q&A. 

06 June 2019

Encouraging farmers to discuss succession planning is the aim of a session being run by The National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (NFYFC) at Cereals on 12 June in the International Farming Superstars Theatre.

The debate, which is supported by Defra, involves a panel of experts and young farmers who will share their experiences and expertise on this essential topic. Experts will lend advice on communication, necessary actions, common difficulties and opportunities within the succession process.

NFYFC’s panel of experts includes Siân Bushell, from Siân Bushell Associates, who helps farm businesses develop succession plans. Ashley Lilley who heads up the Savills food and farming team across the west of England and Georgina Sweeting from Savills’ York office will also share their experience of succession issues.

Cereals is Europe’s leading technical event for the arable industry and the session is aimed at anyone running a family farming or rural business.

NFYFC was supported by Defra and AHDB last year to produce a video called We Really Need to Talk, which aimed to show why communication is such an important part of the succession process before professional advice is sourced.

NFYFC will be launching a new training module, developed with Savills and Siân Bushell, for YFCs to deliver at a club level to help them understand more about the importance of succession planning and to provide advice on how to involve the family.

NFYFC’s Agriculture and Rural Issues (AGRI) Chairman David Goodwin from Warwickshire Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (FYFC) will chair the panel debate and will be joined by AGRI Vice Chairman George Baxter from Cambridgeshire FYFC representing young farmers working in the industry.

David said: “NFYFC wants to highlight practical and accessible measures to help YFC members start and progress succession conversations.. This issue can affect the whole family if it is not dealt with and our session at Cereals will hopefully help to break down some of the barriers around the succession process. ”

Farming Minister Robert Goodwill said:

“As a former chairman of my local Young Farmers branch and holder of a degree in agriculture, I know first-hand how important it is that we invest in the future of our young farmers.

“I am delighted we are supporting this new training module, to give young farmers the skills, tools, confidence and knowledge to plan for our industry’s exciting future.”

The debate will be at Cereals on Wednesday 12 June, 1.00 pm in the International Farming Superstars Theatre at Boothby Graffoe, Lincoln, Lincolnshire.

YFC members can save 40% on tickets to Cereals. See the offer here

Meet the panellists

David Goodwin is a conservation farmer and partner of Costow Farms, a tenanted mixed family farm business on the Warwickshire/Oxon border. A Harper Adams University business studies graduate, David works with his parents and made significant changes to the business when he returned to the family farm. A former chairman of Wormleighton YFC, David is the current chairman of the NFYFC AGRI steering group.

Ashley Lilley heads up the Savills food and farming team across the west of England. He is an agribusiness consultant with 25 years of experience. He advises farmers and landowners on business management and strategy. His clients include landowners, farmers, banks, food manufacturers and retailers. He specialises in business re-finance and re-structure, he also is an experienced expert witness which has included numerous mediations and court appearances to give evidence.

George Baxter is an agriculture graduate and agronomist, originally from a Yorkshire family farming background but now living and working in Cambridgeshire. He is currently county chairman of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs, vice chairman of the NFYFC AGRI steering group and actively promotes industry and YFC messages.

Siân Bushell is a trained facilitator who helps family businesses develop succession plans. Based in South West Wales, Siân works with family businesses in Wales, Ireland, Scotland and England by asking the hard questions to facilitate succession planning for change and growth. Many of her clients are farmers because of her long experience in agriculture and her training as a family farm business facilitator. Her skills are transferable for any family-run business., Ire.

Georgina Sweeting joined Savills in 2016 on the Food & Farming graduate programme, working from the firm’s Northumberland office. In early 2018 she re-located to the York office as a food and farming consultant working with a range of clients from private landowners to institutions on a variety of farm management matters such as contract farming arrangements and stewardship schemes across the North of England. From a farming family in East Yorkshire, Georgina has always had an interest in agriculture and attended Newcastle University to study Agricultural Business Management. 


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