National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

28 October 2020

NFYFC has launched a new guide to affordable rural housing with English Rural after research revealed rural young people felt there was a lack of information available on the subject.

The guide, which is available in an online format, covers topics such as why affordable homes are important in the countryside and how you qualify and apply for affordable housing.

It was launched during National Young Farmers’ Week in response to NFYFC’s research that found 97% of rural young people surveyed wanted to continue living and working in the countryside but more than two thirds felt there was not enough housing available for them.

The survey involved more than 500 responses from rural young people about their views on living and working in rural areas post-Brexit and amid a pandemic.

To read the Affordable Rural Housing Guide for NFYFC members, visit here. 

23 October 2020

Rural young people are pessimistic about future opportunities to live and work in rural areas and believe the pandemic will continue to affect their prospects in the long-term, a new study by The National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (NFYFC) has found.

The research, a Defra-supported NFYFC project in collaboration with researchers Rose Regeneration, has been released ahead of National Young Farmers’ Week 2020 (26-30 October 2020), to reveal how rural young people feel about their future post-Brexit amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Affordable housing, connectivity and available youth services were amongst the challenges faced by today’s rural young people who take an active part in their local communities. They want information and advice on topics ranging from mental health and wellbeing to housing, farming, training and skills.

Key highlights

97% want to live in a rural area over the next five years but 65% feel there is not enough housing for young people.

85% believe Covid-19 will have an impact on their future.

More than two thirds believed it would be harder for new entrants to get started in farming in the future.

Diversification or an off-farm income was seen by 78% as the only way to run a farming business in the future.

The top three challenges for future land management included labour, enterprise start up and technology issues. One-third of respondents stated the skills sets required for farming would need to change with less than half being aware of the new ELM scheme. Over half were confident about increasing productivity but only 50% were confident that they will be able to increase future profitability in farming.

Affordable housing was highlighted as a major stumbling block for young people wanting to remain in the countryside – more than two thirds think there is not enough housing available for rural young people.

But rural young people care about the communities where they live and make positive contributions to them. A lack of services though was a key issue, with young people admitting that the most important facilities they wanted to see available were a community centre/village hall, a youth club or youth service, Wheels to Work and the church.

The pandemic triggered changes in young farmers’ routines, home life, education or employment as well as activities off-farm. While Covid-19 has been easier to manage in rural settings it has driven enhanced feelings of isolation.

The restricted activity has implications and concerns for future sustainability and the impact not only on Young Farmers’ Clubs, but also on the many charities they support by raising and sharing funds.

Ivan Annibal, Managing Director of Rose Regeneration, said:

“Over 500 responses from the people who represent the future of the farming community reveal a fascinating narrative. These are not promising times to be growing up in rural England. Our survey respondents reveal a worldly-wise series of perspectives on the future of farming which show an astonishing depth of insight.

“With not very much cause for optimism this is a group of young people showing a determination to achieve their independence, putting back time and effort into their local communities and planning actively around their training and development.

“They have been socially impacted by coronavirus and feel great uncertainty as the path to Brexit nears its conclusion. Notwithstanding these challenges most are positively getting on with their lives and through this survey provide at least one reason to be cheerful about the future.”

NFYFC will host an online debate during National Young Farmers’ Week to discuss the findings and many other rural and farming topics with a guest panel including NFYFC President, farmer and world-renowned rugby referee Nigel Owens, Ivan Annibal and young farmers Beth Duchesne and Tom Pope.

The survey, which was launched in June 2020, also included a telephone survey to gather feedback from YFC members on the impact the pandemic was having on them and their YFCs.

NFYFC’s YFC AGRI Chairman George Baxter, a member of Cambridgeshire Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs, said:

“Whilst this research raised some of the obvious issues around lack of affordable housing and the need for connectivity in rural areas, it also highlighted the wealth of skills and experiences of young people growing up on a farm. Diversification and high-level skills will be required and there’s an appetite to develop these.

“Young Farmers’ Clubs face significant challenges ahead but it’s clear from the feedback in the survey that the organisation offers an important service to young people in rural areas. These young people also make a vital contribution to the local communities where they live and this has never been so apparent as during the Coivd-19 crisis.”

NFYFC’s online debate – Different Ways of Doing the Same Thing – will be on Weds 28 October at 7.30pm and anyone interested will need to register to attend. There are only 100 spaces available to watch and contribute to the live debate.

Read the summary report of the findings here.  

13 October 2020

Young Farmers’ Clubs face a funding crisis due to Covid-19, and for the first time in its 89-year history the organisation has launched a national fundraising campaign to help secure its future.

The National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (NFYFC) estimates that County Federations have lost nearly £700,000 in income since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020 and the total loss for the organisation now stands at around £1m.

There are concerns that some County Federations will not be able to weather the Covid storm and smaller clubs face an uncertain future. The national office is urgently looking for ways to support counties who are struggling to survive on even tighter budgets than before lockdown and reduced staff resource.

A year-long programme of fundraising is underway – with the first campaign beginning in October for National Young Farmers’ Week. Every County is being challenged to take part in the Give it Some YFC Welly Relay where YFC members will be asked to travel the distance between the clubs in their county and then pass a virtual welly on to another county federation.

NFYFC will start two virtual wellies off in Cornwall and Northumberland on 26 October 2020. Counties will then need to nominate others on social media to take part until all 46 County Federations have received a ‘welly’, travelled the distance and fundraised for their cause.

NFYFC President and world-renowned rugby referee Nigel Owens said:

“Young Farmers’ Clubs are incredibly important in rural areas – helping young people make social connections, learn new skills and support their rural communities. We must do all we can to ensure this vital youth service can continue and I’m encouraging every YFC to back their County Federation and Give it Some YFC Welly!”

Lockdown restrictions forced clubs to stop physical club meetings and competitions in March this year – a situation that has not happened since the Foot & Mouth outbreak in 2001.

During the lockdown, NFYFC launched YFC at Home to support clubs to move their activities online but the usual income from rallies, competitions and fundraising events was lost. A drop in membership numbers because activities were unable to resume also impacted on the usual income for counties, clubs and the national office.

While clubs are now able to meet again under National Youth Agency guidance (15 club members and two leaders), the ongoing restrictions and uncertainty mean the YFC programme has been adapted for 2020-21.

NFYFC Chairman Dewi Parry said: “Covid-19 has taken away so much from our lives, and rural young people who live in remote locations have been forced into even greater levels of isolation by the ongoing restrictions. It’s so good for YFCs to be meeting again but it’s going to be a long road to complete recovery where we’re all competing in large groups and enjoying time together again. Please get behind the Give it Some YFC Welly Relay and support your local county federation.”

Anyone interested in supporting a County Federation’s campaign can visit the JustGiving page to see those taking part, where you can also make donations to the NFYFC campaign.

The Give it Some YFC Welly Relay kicks off on 26 October 2020. 

06 October 2020

Leading farming organisations have come together to set out their proposals for future government policy that can form the foundation of sustainable farming in England for generations to come.

The NFU, CLA, TFA, GWCT, LEAF, Sustainable Food Trust, RABDF, Commercial Farmers Group, National Sheep Association and NFYFC have proposed a ‘Sustainable Food and Farming Scheme’ that should form the scope and approach of the government’s forthcoming ELMs programme.

The proposal sets out that the new scheme should command the interest of the vast majority of farmers and land managers, and each agreement should be driven by the aspiration and capability of each farm business.

In a joint statement from the organisations, they said: “Farmers, growers and land managers across the country are passionate about their dual role as food producers and custodians of the countryside. We want to be known at home and abroad for the standards of our environmental, land and livestock management.

“This proposal sets out key elements of what we think a successful public benefit scheme should look like. It’s important as ELMs will be a key part of the new agricultural policy. 

“As representatives of British farming, we wanted to produce a scheme that can provide a roadmap for government of how to best harness the potential of British agriculture to produce food and care for our environment, wildlife, land and animals.

“Fundamentally, we do not want farmers or land managers to face the dilemma of producing food or conserving their land. Our shared goal is that farming should be to grow food, fibre and energy, while delivering more for the environment and biodiversity.

“That is why our Sustainable Food and Farming Scheme outlines how farming can be both competitive and environmentally responsible, incentivising actions that grow productivity with less environmental impact. It is, in a word, sustainable.

“We all truly want to work with government to make sure our future agricultural policy can deliver for the British public for decades to come. We already have fantastic standards, from our environmental delivery to our animal welfare, but we are eager to do more. We believe this scheme provides the foundation to do just that.”

02 October 2020

Only 100 spaces are available for YFC members to sign up to an online agri debate featuring NFYFC President and world-renowned rugby referee Nigel Owens.

The YFC AGRI event, called Different Ways of Doing the Same Thing, will be hosted during National Young Farmers’ Week on 28 October at 7.30pm and feature a range of farming and rural topics highlighted in the recent YFC AGRI research findings.

More than 500 people took part in the online survey, which is being analysed by Rose Regeneration, and YFC members were also involved in telephone interviews to discuss the impact of Covid-19 on YFCs and farming.

Key topics in the survey cover rural housing issues, broadband connectivity, views on the future of farming, wellbeing and skills and training.

Alongside Nigel Owens, other panellists so far include Somerset FYFC’s County Chairman and Vice Chairman of AGRI Tom Pope and Rose Regeneration Managing Director Ivan Annibal. The debate will be chaired by YFC AGRI Chairman George Baxter from Cambridgeshire FYFC.

George said: “We’re delighted to welcome Nigel Owens to YFC AGRI’s online debate and include him in this important discussion. The results of the surveys give a clear picture of how young people feel about their farming and rural future and we will be sharing these findings at the start of National Young Farmers’ Week ahead of our debate.

“We only have 100 spaces available, so hurry if you want to be part of this exclusive event, where you can pose questions to the panel, including Nigel.”

Limited spaces are available to join the live debate and members can register for free here. Spaces will be issued on a first come, first served basis and it is expected to be a popular event. 

02 October 2020

Food businesses have faced incredible challenges during the pandemic and Pastry Chef and Chocolatier Zoe Anderson lost most of her business overnight when lockdown was announced. Zoe explains how she’s diversified to stay afloat.

Q. What is your job?

I am a self-employed Pastry Chef and Chocolatier running my own business Tiers of Joy Patisserie.

Q. Has the Coronavirus impacted your work?

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, 90% of my work disappeared overnight on 23 March. All but one of the other businesses I supply had to close and I was unable to go into people’s homes to deliver afternoon teas or host workshops.

Q. What plans have you put in place to manage the impact of the outbreak?

I had started doing additional training with IAgSA (The Institute of Agricultural Secretaries and Administrators) prior to lockdown in February to broaden my rural business administration and bookkeeping skills – and to have an additional line of work. Initially lockdown meant the training was postponed, which brought me back to square one. However, the training courses have started being delivered by Zoom, which has worked fantastically well and given me something to look forward to each week. I hope that as restrictions start to ease, I will be able to start supplying local businesses with my products again but if I can’t, then I know I can find other work to keep me afloat. 

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

Not only is British farming continually supplying the nation with great British produce, it is also offering job opportunities to furloughed workers. I hope lockdown has encouraged more people to support their local butchers, farm shops and greengrocers and in turn taught the public to think about where their food comes from.

Q. With growing concerns about food shortages – what would your message be to people about this?

Support your local farm shops, greengrocers, bakers and butchers! Local shops using local produce will not run out of food and more often than not they will be able to give you a much more personal shopping experience than a supermarket. Supporting British farming has never been more important.

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

My YFC club was meeting via Zoom every week, doing scavenger hunts round the house and quizzes. I have only managed to join in twice, but they all seem to be having great fun. We have also had a couple of management meetings over Zoom as a County, including our AGM. It was nice to see people, even if it was only through a screen.

Q. What ways are you all supporting each other?

Social media can be a great way to stay in contact and let people know about snippets of your day but I do think picking up the phone for a chat is the best way to support each other.


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