National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

26 June 2020

Two competitions aimed at junior members have been secured for the next six years, thanks to funding from The Reta Lila Howard Foundation.

NFYFC applied to the Foundation to ask for long-term support for the 16-and-under Sport and the 14 and under Junior Reading competitions. The funding ensures these competitions can be hosted for the next six years as well as provision for online competitions and challenges for under 16s in 2020 due to Covid-19.

The £15,000 donation will also help NFYFC develop more wellbeing resources for members, especially during the pandemic when clubs are unable to host Rural+ sessions and members are facing extra pressures due to Covid-19.

Serena W Mitchell, granddaughter of Reta Howard and a director of the Foundation explained the decision to support YFC was based on the fact it embodied many of her grandmother’s traits – perseverance, a desire to strengthen the community and an all-important sense of fun.

“Our grandmother, Reta Howard (who became Reta Weston upon marrying our grandfather) was a remarkable woman who came from humble country roots.  She was born in rural Ontario in 1897. Her father was a pastor and butter-maker; both he and her only brother died before Reta reached her 18th birthday. 

“In spite of adversity, Reta grew up to earn a BA from the University of Toronto, become a world traveller and a devoted mother to nine children. It is in her honour that the Foundation Directors, made up only of her direct descendants, choose charities to support in Britain, where Reta spent much of her adult life. We hope this donation will help the YFC community feel good about what it achieves as well as honouring my grandma.”

The news that the junior competitions would be secured in the coming news was welcomed by Grace Millbank, NFYFC’s Competitions Steering Group Chairman.

“We are very grateful that the Foundation directors have recognised and chosen to support YFC activities that are geared towards our younger members. The NFYFC Competitions programme helps develop skills for life and gives young people new opportunities.

“During these challenging times, we are thrilled that The Reta Lila Howard Foundation has valued YFC and its work and helped to ensure the long-term future of these activities.” 

24 June 2020

Operators of a farming helpline that has offered support to farmers during Covid-19 have praised YFC members for their assistance throughout the crisis.   

Clubs across England and Wales registered their details with the Farming Help helpline at the start of the crisis to share what support they could offer in their local areas.

More than half of the calls (56%) to the helpline in April, which is operated by The Farming Community Network (FCN), had a Covid-19 connection and around two-thirds were stress related. The majority of calls relate to financial difficulties, sometimes related to farming activities that have been affected by the pandemic, and mental wellbeing.

Alex Phillimore from FCN said the charity was grateful to YFCs for supporting the helpline initiative and for adding their details to the directory that is used by helpline volunteers when farmers are seeking help.

“It’s been great to know the YFC clubs are there to help if needed. Whilst our Helpline has been busy, farmers appear to be coping well in general so far. We have been helping people with issues relating to mental wellbeing and financial matters in particular and as the lockdown lifts and harvest approaches, we anticipate there could still be problems to come, so it’s great to have the YFCs on hand and ready to assist if needed.”

Farming Help Charities – Addington Fund, Farming Community Network (FCN), Forage Aid, Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (R.A.B.I), and RSABI, supported by The Prince's Countryside Fund – worked together to deliver the service. As well as NFYFC, the initiative was also in conjunction with The National Farmers’ Union, and the NFU Mutual Charitable Trust.

Call 03000 111 999 or visit for further support. 

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!”


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