National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

26 January 2021

Technology and innovation were key themes of the Oxford Farming Conference this year and three YFC members experienced the event in its first ever online format.

Jack Seigneury from Lincolnshire FYFC, Jessica Spencer from Nottinghamshire FYFC and NFYFC’s Vice Chairman Ed Dungait from Northumberland FYFC logged on to the one-day virtual conference in January after being awarded an NFYFC Scholarship by the Worshipful Company of Farmers.

The event, called Business as Unusual, was held just seven days after the UK left the EU and amid the pandemic. The online conference platform allowed delegates to meet on virtual tables, change floors taking the elevator and pop up on ‘stage’ to ask the speaker a question.

The three YFC members also enjoyed a training day, organised by McDonald’s and McCain who highlighted the importance of high quality, high welfare, British produce.

Ed, who found the training day useful, said: “The workshop made me realise how often unconscious bias affects the decisions I and others make. There are so many barriers to diversity in the rural landscape and we discussed ways to break these. It has probably improved my character as a result, and I endeavour to continue using the skills and mindset that I have learnt.”

Ed also attended all of the sessions at the OFC event, including listening to a presentation from the Environment Secretary George Eustice who spoke about how gene editing creates the potential to protect the nation’s environment, pollinators and wildlife.

Other sessions included discussions on traceability apps, a science lecture by Research Director at Chatham House Tim Benton on growing the right types of food to feed a population and an emotive session about mental health in agriculture. But it was a talk by sustainability expert John Elkington, that captured Ed’s attention the most.

“He [Elkington] explained that ideas we find extraordinary and ridiculous now will become the norm much sooner than we imagine. The example of carriage drivers being enraged by the invention of umbrellas was worth remembering,” said Ed.

“There was a good explanation of how the human brain is great at imagining incremental changes but terrible at imagining exponential ones. I think that this may be a hindrance to the farming industry in particular, as we are comparatively slow to embrace new technology. Modern advances included renewable energy, vertical farming and fake meat. He also highlighted the great threat to the livestock industry that will come from improved fermented meat production.”

The three scholars also had a chance to meet with HRH The Princess Royal where they discussed YFC, farming topics and issues affecting young people from rural communities.

“It was good to hear the Princess Royal’s interest in YFC and her concerns for members who have struggled to get online during lockdown. I was able to talk about the impact this lack of connectivity had made on people and what NFYFC was doing to promote this issue,” said Ed.

The day was packed with content and learning, with lots for the three scholars to take away and think about. Hearing about the passion for the sector was encouraging for Ed who felt it had helped shift his mindset from largely concentrating on the financial returns of his venture.

One of the most enlightening parts of the conference for Ed was a group discussion on how the industry could recruit and retain quality talent from multi-disciplinary backgrounds.

“When asked how I would go about recruiting a new member of staff, I explained it would be through word of mouth or possibly an advert on my Facebook account,” admitted Ed. “I realised that I am part of the problem in terms of lack of diversity in agriculture – I’m not giving people a chance from another disciplinary background. It was good to discuss different recruitment strategies.”

Every year the Worshipful Company of Farmers sponsors YFC members to attend the conference and any YFC member can apply for these places.

For more information about future scholarship opportunities at the Oxford Farming Conference, contact Sarah Palmer.  


 


21 January 2021

It was a positive start to 2021 for the YFC AGRI group of regional YFC representatives who hosted a Defra presentation of the Agricultural Transition Plan (ATP) on 5 January at their regular Zoom meetings.

Neville Cavendish, Head of Co-design for Defra’s Future Farming and Countryside Programme stakeholder engagement manager took everyone through their paces explaining policy intentions, timelines, schemes and grants for the next seven-year agricultural transition period.

The opportunity for YFC members to take part in a Q&A with Defra was welcomed, not only to question but also to give feedback, highlight practical issues as well as young farmers’ passion for food production as well as land management.   Neville also set out how YFC members and representatives could get involved further to help design the emerging Defra policy and schemes over the coming months, as part of the approach Defra is taking to co-design – partnering with the people who use and access Defra schemes and services, to understand problems and develop the solutions together.

With YFC members from regions spanning England and Wales, there was plenty of next generation representation and collaboration.With just under 30 attendees, AGRI Chairman George Baxter was pleased to see the momentum of the YFC AGRI work continue at his penultimate meeting as lead of the group. 

“Despite all the challenges of last year, everyone has bonded well and achieved much to be proud of,” said George. “We welcome every opportunity to represent our YFC members, to keep connected during these challenging times and to encourage more people to join in with our regular discussion meetings.  Communication is key and we also look forward to continued conversations with policy makers.”

The next YFC AGRI meeting will held at 8pm on 16 February 2021 and YFC members and interested observers are welcome.  Contact Sarah Palmer for further details or if you would like to get involved with co-design opportunities with Defra.

You can download a copy of the Defra presentation here


20 January 2021

A new initiative by the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs will support its County Federations to reach their full potential and improve YFC members’ experiences.

County on Track will work with Counties to identify their achievements in 10 key category areas. Where gaps are shown, Counties will receive training and support to help them improve.

By sharing experiences, County on Track also aims to celebrate best practice and encourage a culture of learning from each other.

County Federations will be awarded with a red, green or gold welly standard in each category area. A red welly will trigger an action plan from NFYFC and increased support on how to improve. Green wellies mean that a County Federation is following good practice and meeting its charitable requirements in that particular category and gold wellies are given when a County is following best practice but has gone above and beyond what is required.

All County Federations that receive a green welly across all 10 categories will receive a certificate from NFYFC. Any County Federation that receives a gold welly in a particular category will receive a certificate from NFYFC for that category only (as long as they have not received a red welly elsewhere). Case studies from gold welly Counties will also be shared to help others reach the same goal.

All County Federations will need to complete an online questionnaire and NFYFC will follow up with a meeting to help with the new grading system.

For more information about County on Track, email Allie and Natasha at training@nfyfc.org.uk



15 January 2021

The National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (NFYFC) has teamed up with SAI Global Assurance to help spread the positive message of farm assurance for future farming.

The project aims to build awareness around the importance of farm assurance in building a resilient future for the industry and environment. SAI Global’s farm assurance team is collaborating to deliver a suite of interactive and online content across 2021, including video interviews with farmers who have invested in farm assurance and are reaping the benefits.

NFYFC AGRI Chairman George Baxter commented: “Although we don’t know all the detail yet, we know that change is happening and we want to be prepared.  Our planned farm assurance project has to be adapted for online production due to the pandemic restrictions, but it’ll certainly help to answer any questions or concerns that young farmers may be facing and provide sound advice for good business practice.  It’s encouraging to hear such frank discussion within the podcast and I recommend everyone has a listen and looks forward to viewing the next part of the project.”

The work launches with an overview of farm assurance in a podcast hosted by Ben Eagle featuring SAI Global’s Robin Levin.

Robin Levin, SAI Global’s relationship manager said: “This is a challenging period for UK agriculture, with the effects of politics, pandemics and changing customer demand. Farm Assurance helps bring stability. Welcome to Red Tractor’s new chairman Christine Tacon, to help guide us through the stormy waters. New Standards, due to be released on 1November 2021 are out for public consultation – please take a look.”

The introduction to farm assurance project is supported by Defra and developed by NFYFC and SAI Global.


15 January 2021

NFYFC’s 89th Annual General Meeting will be held online on Thursday 29 April 2021 at 7.30pm and YFCs and County Federations are invited to put forward a motion to be debated at the meeting.

Clubs and County Federations wishing to submit a motion for the agenda must send to the Chief Officer James Eckley by 12 noon on Tuesday 16 February 2021.

The second draft agenda will then be published on 23 February to give clubs and County Federations chance to put forward any amendments to the motions. All amendments must be received by 23 March.

The final agenda is then circulated to clubs and County Federations by Thursday 1 April 2021.

This will be the second year that NFYFC has held its AGM online due to the impact of the pandemic. All Clubs will receive information about voting and attending the meeting in due course.

Nominations for a new Chairman and Vice Chairmen of Council have now closed and elections will take place at the February Council meeting, which will also be held online.


14 January 2021

YFCs can now further support their members’ development by offering a range of training courses online, as the NFYFC’s Curve programme has been adapted for digital delivery.

So far, 12 of the 22 Curve modules are now available for YFC Trainers to deliver on platforms such as Zoom or MS Teams to help develop members’ skills and understanding of YFC.

The modules now available for online delivery are:

  • Fundamentals (Back to Basics)
  • Dream Teams
  • Good Programme Guide
  • Great Communicators
  • Managing Change
  • Member Retention and Recruitment
  • Staying Alive
  • The Power of Social Media 
  • Event Budgeting
  • Succession Planning
  • Food 4 Thought
  • Networking Know How

The first round of Curve modules to be adapted are focused on supporting clubs, and the training team are busy adapting courses such as E-Safety that have become even more relevant during Lockdowns.

The modules, which must be delivered by an accredited YFC Trainer, all have updated training plans and PowerPoints that will support online learning. A video will be shared with YFC Trainers with advice on how to use Zoom’s interactive features – such as whiteboards and break out rooms.

Training and Development Officer Natasha Dennis said: “We’re really excited to be launching digital versions of the Curve programme. We know these courses are popular in clubs and they will make an ideal club meeting activity for online sessions too. We will be adding more online versions of the modules to the list very soon.”

A new Trainers' Forum will be organised soon to support all trainers throughout the organisation and to ensure NFYFC has the most up-to-date list of trainers. There may also be an online Train the Trainer course to support other members who would like to become a trainer.

YFC Trainers should contact Allie and Natasha at training@nfyfc.org.uk for more information and to access any new training materials. 



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