National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

10 March 2020

In celebration of National Butchers’ Week, NFYFC caught up with Becky Robinson about how she forged a career as a female butcher to run Becky’s Butchers and the support she got from YFC

Why did you want to be a butcher?

I grew up on a mixed farm and livestock has always been a big part of my life. Mum used to sell the beef and lamb for many years 'out of her kitchen' and I have always been interested in the field-to-fork process.

How did you train to be a butcher?

After finishing college I got an apprenticeship job at The Suffolk Food Hall where I completed my Level 2 Butchery qualification.

After this I travelled for a few years, spending time working on a cattle station in Australia, before returning home to complete my Level 3 Butchery qualification. I started Becky’s Butchers in 2017.

Is it a male dominated profession?

Butchery was known as a role carried out mainly by men but there are more women out there taking on these roles now – and why not?

It is just me and my mum who work at Becky’s Butchers and between us we lift huge bodies of beef from the fridge to the block – and then break down the carcass to be sold.

It is such a diverse job too. One day you might be doing 10 lambs for an order and the next 100kg sausages.

Butchery is not just a skill, it’s an art. You have to be able to multitask and have a diverse range of skills – from being able to break down a hindquarter of beef to prepping some French-trimmed racks of lamb. If you like a hands-on role, interacting with a good team of people and customers, why not give it a go?

What do you love about your job?

I have been very lucky to be able to convert part of the farm into a butchery and shop with the help of my family and friends.

Diversifying to be a butcher meant we could keep the livestock and then sell them through the shop. Being able to show customers the ‘field to fork’ process is great too.

The other side of Becky’s Butchers is the private butchery service for people with livestock. I really enjoy being able to talk to other farmers or smallholders about their animals. I like to help them through the whole process so they can get the best from their carcasses. This has now evolved even further and we look after four other farm shops too.

What’s the hardest part of the job?

I don’t find my job hard because for me it isn’t a job; it’s a way of life. Yes there are good and bad days but that is part of what I live for and wouldn’t change it for the world.

Has YFC supported your career progression?

Being a Young Farmer has allowed me to network with like-minded people who are passionate about livestock, the countryside and everything British. YFC has given me opportunities to learn new skills too. Now 28, I am an associate YFC member and still support Essex FYFC and my club, Wix YFC with raising money for some fantastic charities. 

05 March 2020

YFC members took part in eight ‘YFC Talks to Defra’ regional discussion events over the last few months that YFC AGRI organised with Defra.

YFC AGRI received a Defra grant to support agreed work which included regional engagement events to help hear about and to contribute to, a future Environmental Land Management scheme (ELMs). 

The new Agriculture Bill was re-introduced to Parliament in January and new policies are emerging. Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) payments will gradually be phased out and ELM is currently being designed, alongside other future schemes covering areas such as plant health and animal welfare.

These recent regional ‘YFC Talks to Defra’ events gave an ideal opportunity for current and future young farmers to understand what policies Defra are working on and why.  As this new scheme will affect so many farmers in all regions of England, the events helped to capture the practical thoughts, concerns and ideas from those who already manage land. For this particular scheme, it’s important that all local and regional considerations are talked about and taken into account.

Young farmers value the importance of food production and enhanced efficiency going hand-in-hand with environmental measures. They listened to, questioned and discussed the practicalities of Defra’s plans for a future tiered scheme, packages of options, a scheme devolved to local government and an innovative price discovery mechanism. They were assured that nothing is yet set in stone and that Defra aims to tailor the new scheme to fit local priorities, find innovative delivery solutions and explore new payment methodologies.  

A future National Pilot, launching in late 2021 will build on the current tests and trials work and the scheme should be made easily accessible for farmers to work out what will be appropriate for their individual farms.

Defra has now launched the Environmental Land Management (ELM) Policy Discussion Document on the Citizen Space website. This document sets out Defra’s initial thinking on the design of the new ELM scheme. There are key questions in the document which will help Defra shape the new scheme. Visit the Defra Facebook page for further information

04 March 2020

The YFC Centre at Stoneleigh Park is undergoing much-needed improvements using funding from a long-established and restricted fund.

NFYFC staff and the HOPS staff team will move out of the premises in March to a temporary location nearby on the park. The offices will close from 5 March until 10 March while the team set up their new temporary space.     

The building at Stoneleigh Park has been largely untouched since the 60s. It is not environmentally friendly, energy efficient or easily accessible for people with disabilities and has insufficient space for meetings and training.

The refurbishment uses the original building structure, which saves on expense, but will provide a more practical environment for visitors, YFC members and staff to work from. Improved insulation and heating will go towards reducing running costs.

The refurbishment will be paid for by a £440,000 YFC Centre Endowment Fund that can only be used for the purposes of developing the YFC Centre. This is a restricted fund, established soon after the NFYFC moved from London to the current YFC Centre at Stoneleigh Park in 1968. The essential development work to the building has also been pledged a further £50,000 from a Trust fund, which is also restricted and can only be used for this purpose. 


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