National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

25 October 2021

With COP26 on the horizon, The National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (NFYFC) is looking to a more sustainable future as it celebrates its 90th membership year during National Young Farmers’ Week (25-29 October) supported by NatWest.

NFYFC has seen a surge in young people wanting to join its 581 YFCs across England and Wales since the 90th membership year started in September. There has been a 17% increase on the numbers of young people, aged 10-28, joining in September 2021 compared with those who signed up in September 2019, prior to the pandemic.

And as membership numbers rise, NFYFC has tasked all of its clubs with a challenge to improve the environment in their rural communities through YFC Operation Green, supported by NatWest and the Environment Agency. From litter picks to local community projects, YFCs have been focusing on ways they can combat climate change and create a more sustainable future for YFC and their rural community.

During National Young Farmers’ Week, which is one week before COP26, a new club training session, developed with the Environment Agency, is also being launched that focuses on preventing plastic pollution. Clubs will be urged to run the session during club meetings throughout the membership year to help raise awareness and change behaviour.

The increase in membership numbers during the 90th year positively demonstrates the continued importance of YFCs to rural communities.

NFYFC President Nigel Owens MBE said:

“The pandemic has highlighted how much we all need local support and connections, especially in remote rural locations. Covid-19 restrictions have had a massive impact on young people especially – further enhancing feelings of isolation in rural areas.

“YFC at Home proved to be a lifeline for many throughout lockdown restrictions and it is encouraging to see rural young people reconnecting with their local clubs in person and being back in the heart of their communities. YFCs have spent 90 years excelling at bringing rural people together, building confidence and developing skills, while celebrating life in the countryside. I am excited for the future of this amazing organisation and its next 90 years – and it’s so good to shout about its success during National Young Farmers’ Week!”

National Young Farmers’ Week is an annual celebration aimed at promoting YFCs to more rural young people so they are aware of the benefits clubs can offer them by providing an active social network and developing skills. This year’s event will look back through the organisation’s nine decades but with a clear message about looking to a more sustainable future for all.

Messages of support for the 90th year will be shared during National Young Farmers’ Week and include a special letter from NFYFC’s Patron The Queen, who wrote: 

“As your patron, I was pleased to learn that clubs have begun meeting again, following a very challenging period throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. I send my best wishes to you all for a most memorable and enjoyable year marking this notable milestone.”

Using the hashtag #YFCMadeMe, NFYFC will also share stories throughout the week from successful former YFC members who will talk about the impact the organisation has made on their lives. Case studies include the youngest-ever Farmers Weekly editor Andrew Meredith, Defra Minster Rebecca Pow and the shepherdess from Clarkson’s Farm Ellen Helliwell. (See summaries in notes to editors).

Ellen Helliwell, a former member of Hope Valley YFC in Derbyshire and Penrith YFC in Cumbria, said:

“Experiences such as stockjudging, rallies, the tug of war and public speaking helped to build me as a person and gave me skills to use later in life in my career. And I have had so much fun along the way. I don’t really know why anyone would have to think twice about joining YFC. It’s a no-brainer.”

The week will also include an online debate for young farmers to discuss the roll out of one of the biggest changes to affect any sector in the UK. The Ready for Change? online debate (27 October) involves guest speakers Andrew Meredith, Janet Hughes, Programme Director for Defra’s Future Farming and Countryside Programme, and Roddy McLean, Director of Agriculture at NatWest.

Rachel Goldie, NFYFC Chair of Council 2021-22, said:

“It’s amazing to be celebrating NFYFC’s 90th year, and it feels even more special as we emerge from the pandemic. It’s great to see so many rural young people re-discovering YFC and choosing to shape a more positive future for themselves through the many opportunities being a YFC member offers.

“We must ensure NFYFC is around for many more decades to come and that means not only protecting the organisation but also our planet. YFCs play a key role in their rural communities and together we can make a big impact on our local environment.” 

National Young Farmers’ Week is made possible thanks to support from NatWest. This will be the fourth year the bank has supported the event.

Roddy McLean, Director of Agriculture at NatWest, said:

“The future of agriculture rests with many of the young people involved in Young Farmers’ Clubs and it’s why we are proud to support National Young Farmers’ Week for a fourth year.

“As we face one of the biggest changes in the history of British agriculture in the UK, we are keen to help equip those who are just beginning their farming journeys with the right skills, tools and networks to succeed.”

National Young Farmers’ Week runs from 25-29 October and information about joining a local Young Farmers’ Club can be found here


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