National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

24 June 2020

When Dorset County Chairman Matt Frampton was diagnosed with testicular cancer last December, YFC members rallied round to raise awareness and funds with some ‘wacky’ fundraisers.

The County has raised more than £6,000 for Orchid – Fighting Male Cancer so far through an online quiz and is set to boost funds and awareness of testicular cancer with its wacky underwear challenge.

Dorset is calling on all YFC members to wear their most wacky underwear over their normal clothes and share the images on social media on Friday 26 June, using #MattsFight and #KnowYourNuts. Those taking part are also asked to donate £5 to the Just Giving page and nominate three of their friends to do the same.

Matt started his year as County Chairman in November 2019 but very soon after was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Matt had an operation on Christmas Eve but by March this year, a CT scan showed three secondary tumours on his lung. He has just finished nine weeks of chemotherapy under the care of the oncology team at Southampton.

Matt says on the Just Giving page: “I cannot thank the doctors and nurses at Dorchester, Salisbury, Poole and Southampton enough for all the care and support over the past few months and also the wonderful back up from the Macmillan team.

“Normally Young Farmer Fundraising involves a really good party, but in these difficult times the Dorset YFC members have decided to hold a Quiz fundraiser for my chosen charity “Orchid” who research and raise awareness of all male cancers. My thanks go to all the members and friends for all their good wishes.”  

You can donate to #MattsFight here and also take part in the wacky underwear challenge on 26 June 2020. 

 

24 June 2020

YFC members are invited to get involved in four online agri debates organised by Devon FYFC and NFU Mutual.

The agri debate is traditionally held during the Devon County Show but this year’s event had to be cancelled due to Covid-19. But thanks to support from NFU Mutual, the County has been able to move to an online format to discuss the opportunities and challenges facing farmers in the South West with a panel of top speakers.

The first debate – ‘Is recruiting and retaining new entrants key to driving the agricultural industry forward?’ – is being held on Thursday 25 June at 7:30pm and is free for anyone to join by registering here.

The online debate is part of series of four sessions organised by Devon FYFC and NFU Mutual, with experts from farming and agriculture coming together to discuss topical issues and share best practice. David Fursdon, Lord Lieutenant of Devon, will chair all four debates which will cover recruitment, the environment, diversification and mental health.

The panellists at the first debate include Ali Capper, NFU Mutual Board Member and a national expert on labour issues affecting agriculture as Chair of the NFU Horticulture and Potatoes Board. Leading figures from the South West who will be on the panel include Matt Darke, Devon YFC Vice Chairman, who runs a mixed farm in South Devon with several generations involved in the family business;  dairy farmer Chris Cardell from Grampound, Cornwall who has been the National Farmers Union (NFU) Tenants Forum Chairman since 2014 and Peter Reed - Programme Manager at Bicton College and Duchy College.

Ali Capper said: “It’s a great honour to be taking part in this debate as the next generation of farmers will be leading the future of the industry.  We are facing some of the biggest challenges in farming since the Second World War, including a critical shortage of farm workers in this country.

“Commitment and experience are vital to productivity as well as having the right career routes for people from within and outside farming to make the most of the opportunities that the technological revolution will bring to our agricultural future outside the EU.”

Helen Bellew, Devon YFC AGRI Chairperson for Devon YFC, said: “Our debates at Devon County Show are always passionate, topical and insightful and we are determined to keep this vibrancy alive with our online events this year.

“We appreciate the support from NFU Mutual supporting the online debates which will discuss a variety of key issues that affect the future of our industry.

“We have a strong tradition of debating and our Devon YFC debating team were winners of the South West regional finals and were due to travel to the national debating finals in March which were cancelled. Despite this setback and the cancellation of the Devon County Show we are pleased to be staging our own series of agri-debates.”

To register to attend the first online debate, visit here. 


24 June 2020

Walking the crops alone and only speaking to customers by telephone has made Tom Pope’s job as an agronomist a much lonelier one. But the Somerset County Chairman is grateful he has been able to continue working through the pandemic – and believes online YFC meetings are here to stay!

Q. Can you tell us about the work you are involved in?

I work as an agronomist in Somerset, Dorset and Devon. My job involves me checking farmers’ crops and advising how to look after them in a way which can maximise the yield and quality of the crop. I advise on fertiliser, sprays, seed, soil health and also legislation. I get to manage my own time and it is my responsibility to try and increase the area that I advise on. I really enjoy working with farmers to improve their yields and make their farms more profitable.

Q. Has the Coronavirus impacted your work?

In a lot of ways, it has been business as usual for me. Obviously crops don't stop growing, especially in the spring and early summer which is my busiest time, so I've had to keep going as well. What has been different is normally some of my farmers come out to walk the crops with me or I will go and catch up with them at the farm after I have done so. With the restrictions I've had to walk the crops by myself and dealt with all of my customers purely over the phone which has been strange, it's been quite common for me to not see anyone else from when I leave in the morning until I get home at night. But generally I've been very lucky that I've been able to carry on as usual.

Q. Are you from a farming family?

I grew up on our family arable farm in Somerset and now live just down the road from it. The farm was mainly tenanted until two years ago. Our landlords sold up and we took the decision to buy some of the farm, but unfortunately it’s not of a viable size to be purely arable so we are exploring diversification. The latest addition to the business is an enclosed dog walking area which people pay to rent for an hour at a time.

Q. How do you feel about the essential role British farming is playing during the crisis?

I feel proud to work in such a crucial industry. I think that the panic buying at the start of the crisis really made people think about where their food came from and the people involved in the supply chain. I think the whole industry has stepped up to the plate and done what we do best in producing great quality food for the British people.

Q. Why did you want to be involved in YFC AGRI?

I wanted to be involved with YFC AGRI because I am passionate about the agricultural industry and wanted to make a difference. There are so many issues facing young people living in the rural community and I'd like to think the things YFC AGRI get involved in can help address some of these.

Q. Are you managing to stay connected to your YFC at the moment?

It has been a learning curve but we've stayed connected. I've lost count of the number of Zoom calls I've been on and these have ranged from serious meetings to quizzes and treasure hunts. We've also been running some online competitions as a County Federation which have been great fun.

I’ve also been involved in YFC AGRI Zoom meetings every other week, which has kept me in touch with what’s going on in the industry.

Q. How has the pandemic impacted your role as County Chairman?

As mentioned, we've got used to Zoom meetings very quickly. I think we've realised that although virtual get togethers will never fully replace face-to-face meetings – we have the option to hold them online sometimes. I think we'll get better attendance at the online meetings too, as Somerset is a large county and travelling to meetings can take up a lot of time and some people struggle to get to them if they finish work late. 



24 June 2020

A successful application for funding has helped Craswall YFC's members improve their hedgelaying skills and put them top of the county at a hedging match earlier in the year.  

New chainsaws, safety kit, essential hedgelaying tools and training were purchased by Craswall YFC after they were awarded £16,000 to help them preserve the rural craft of hedgelaying.

The club, which is on the Welsh-Herefordshire border, successfully applied to the Black Mountains Land Use Partnership’s (BMLUP) stipend funding last year to support their passion for hedgelaying. The club went on to win Herefordshire FYFC’s annual hedging match for the 10th consecutive year in January. 

Club Secretary Emily Pritchard said: “The training and experience have created more confident young hedgelayers who can now safely and competently lay hedges and have become part of the movement to keep this traditional rural craft alive.

“The hedgelaying activities, and YFC in general, has helped the mental health and wellbeing of our members as well in what can often be an isolating and lonely environment for younger people. Craswall YFC are incredibly grateful to the BMLUP for giving us the chance to extend our work with hedgelaying and are proud to be a part of preserving this beautiful rural skill and craft in the Black Mountains and beyond for many years to come!”

Traditionally in the Welsh-Herefordshire border, hedgerows are made up of hazel, blackthorn, hawthorn and holly, which suit the Breconshire-style of hedgelaying. All members of the club now have chainsaw certificates and have received training from three former Craswall members who were also champion hedgers – Mark Pritchard, Neville Powell and Brian Price. The trio trained members every Sunday in January to give them more practical knowledge. 

“Being able to create natural habitats for birds and other wildlife is just one of the many benefits of hedgelaying,” said Emily. “It’s a skill that has been passed down through generations. It is of vital importance that hedge laying and other traditional rural skills are promoted to the younger generations who will be able to carry them on and go on to teach the hedgelayers of the future!”


20 June 2020

Despite the cancellation of many stockjudging competitions, young farmers were still able to practise their skills in NFYFC’s Isolation Stockjudging Challenge, sponsored by Rutland Electric Fencing.

With support from Staffordshire FYFC, members had the chance to judge a ring of beef cattle and a ring of dairy cows. YFC members were asked to state the order of their cattle placings and record their reasons on video or sound file and send them to NFYFC to be judged.

Harriet Wilson and Jake Manning from Staffordshire FYFC judged the online entries and both were impressed by the standard in the three age categories – junior, intermediate and senior.

Harriet said: “The quality of the reasons was outstanding. The competitors made so much effort, with most of them in white coats, shirt and ties. It was extremely hard to mark because the standard was so high. I was quite glad to be out of age and not competing against them!”

William Griffiths from St Clears YFC in Carmarthenshire won the Senior Dairy stockjudging challenge and said he has travelled to the Great Yorkshire Show to take part in the stockjudging finals a few times but never won.

“I enjoyed taking part in this competition virtually, not as much as the real thing but it's the best you could do under the current circumstances. I have been doing stockjudging since I was 13 years old and have come close to winning at the Great Yorkshire Show. This is the next best thing,” said William.

It was a Welsh victory in the Senior Beef category too as Carys Phillips from Llys y Fran YFC from Pembrokeshire took the top spot. Living on a beef and sheep farm gave her an advantagebut, although she has taken part in many stockjudging competitions in YFC, this was her first virtual one!

“Even though it wasn’t the normal way of judging animals it was nice to be involved and show that we are able to still have fun and compete virtually,” said Carys. “It always feels great to win, although it doesn’t happen all the time and taking part is what really counts! If you don’t take part, you have no chance of winning!”

It’s important to put in the practise though, insists Carys, if you want to do well.

“I have been stockjudging for over 14 years and every year I learn something new. Be sure of what you’re saying and convince the judge that you are right. Use your two minutes wisely and remember that the judge is likely to hear many other reasons that day so use that two minutes to make him/her remember yours!”

In the junior dairy category, Thomas Herd from Upper Wharfdale YFC in Yorkshire, came first place and in the junior beef, first place went to Maddie Rousell from Wedmore YFC in Somerset.

The intermediate Dairy stockjudging was won by Megan Phillips from Eardisley YFC in Herefordshire and in the beef category, the winner was Daisy Haigh from Tuxford YFC in Nottinghamshire.

Sponsors Rutland Electric Fencing gave an ESD 1600 Energiser as a prize to each winner of the Challenge.

Tom Royall, Managing Director of Rutland Electric Fencing, said: “With these challenging times I am pleased that we can continue to support the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs. It is important that the next generation of famers continue these traditions and I hope that normal service will resume very soon.”

For more information about the latest round of Isolation Challenges, see here



11 June 2020

Despite the mounting challenges for the agricultural sector young farmers shared their optimism for the future in an online session hosted by NFYFC at Cereals Live2020.

The evening webinar called What’s on Your Mind? was the final online session of a two-day Young Farmer programme that had been developed in conjunction with YFC AGRI for Cereals.

Chaired by YFC AGRI Chairman George Baxter and supported by Vice Chairman Tom Pope, the discussions involved presentations from Suzy Deeley from RABI and Joe Stanley, a trustee of the Henry Plumb Foundation.

Joe, a third generation mixed lowland arable and beef farmer from Leicestershire, outlined the funding and mentoring support available through the Henry Plumb Foundation for those eager to get on in the sector. When asked about the pressures of Covid-19, alongside the uncertainty of Brexit, a new Agricultural Bill and the introduction of ELMs, Joe admitted it was a “volatile” period for farming but that young farmers gave an overwhelming impression of optimism.

“Meeting other farmers – we’re all can-do people. The shape of farming is going to change and that’s probably to be welcomed in our increased emphasis on the environment.

“We are going to have to fight hard for it and put our arguments forward. I am sure we will win through and have a strong dynamic industry,” said Joe.

Weather conditions and loss of income due to the pandemic are issues that RABI is expecting to impact on farmers as the year progresses. Suzy Deeley from the charity detailed the support they offered and new projects on the horizon – including an online counselling service.

“Covid is going to be a big problem but we encourage people to call,” said Suzy. “We are often thought of as the last port of call but we don’t want to be seen that way. The earlier we can start having a conversation, the better the outcome.”

Suzy also highlighted the impact the pandemic was having on the charity’s ability to fundraise with huge losses predicted this year. 

YFC AGRI Chairman Tom Pope from Somerset FYFC talked about the impact the lockdown was having on YFC and highlighted how young farmers have adapted.

“Being such a social organisation, it has been difficult,” said Tom during the session. “We have learnt a lot from having to do things online. There are some massive positives. It can be onerous as a County Chairman [for example] because of all the meetings you have to go to, which completely takes over your life. Being able to do the odd meeting online has made us realise it can work this way.

“We have also been having regular catch ups with the YFC AGRI group which is good for checking in on people who are feeling lonely. We have evolved into the new situation as young farmers do. But it would be great to get back to the new normal soon.”

With Covid-19 forcing the Cereals event online, organisers have found it has appealed to a new audience. The average online attendance over the two-day virtual event was 20 years younger than those who usually attend the physical outdoor event. Future Cereals events look likely to include more online sessions – a positive step for those who are unable to get to the live event.

For more information about the support available from the Henry Plumb Foundation visit here and for more information about RABI, visit here. 




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