National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

22 November 2021

Malmesbury YFC is thriving following successful new members’ nights and some good planning. Club Chair Luke Cox shares his experience leading the club. 

Q. How has the start of the new membership year been for Malmesbury YFC?

It has been brilliant for Malmesbury YFC. Engagement with the club and all that we are offering has more than exceeded expectations, and everyone has been willing to get back involved after the recent lockdowns.

Members who have been involved with the club for a number of years have also been great at recruiting their friends, and the club is now probably the strongest it has been for many years.

Q. Have you held a new members' evening?

We held a couple of new members’ evenings in October, one on the first Wednesday evening of the month (which is our weekly meeting evening) and another on the Friday of National Young Farmers’ Week at the end of the month.

They were both really successful, with over 30 people turning up to the skittles evening at the start of the month and all signing up on the night, and the quiz night at the end of the month attracted new members as well as enabling people to make friends with neighbouring clubs, as we invited them along too.

Q. What activities have you held to bring everyone together again after most Covid-19 restrictions were lifted?

Without fail, we hold a meeting every Wednesday evening. This has ranged from pumpkin carving and mini golf to guest speakers. All of these meetings have been very well attended, which shows how well everyone has come together as a club. We also held our first main event of the year – our annual bonfire and fireworks night – which played host to around 400 people and made a healthy profit for the club. 

We also got involved in YFC Operation Green to do a litter pick to clean up the village.  

Q. Are you finding there are new challenges for club officers this side of the pandemic?

I haven’t come across many major challenges yet during my time as Chair, but that is in part due to the amount of organisation I put into events. The secret to limiting the problems you might face as Chair is to plan well in advance, and make sure everyone is aware of what you are offering. This way it gives you plenty of time to makes changes if you need to, and it’s much easier to switch meetings around where necessary.

Q. What has your club got planned for the winter months? 

Throughout winter we will continue our weekly meetings, including our annual carol service and Christmas meal. We are also offering wreath making, ice skating, a brewery tour and more guest speakers. The committee will be starting to plan our summer events, which include our internal Pimms Party and our famous Hellraiser party which can attract up to 500 people.

Q. Are you feeling confident about re-building YFC over the next few months?

The club already have over 60 members, and we hope to grow this to nearer 100 by the end of the year. 

The county rally in May is the highlight of the YFC year in Wiltshire, and this is always a great opportunity to get everyone together for a day of competitions. I am confident that the togetherness of the club will allow us to continue to build on the strong foundations we have built early on this year.

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11 November 2021

With a demand for more information about upcoming industry changes, NFYFC’s annual AGRI Forum, held online during National Young Farmers’ Week, provided the perfect platform for young farmers to discuss the future.

Chaired by Somerset YFC member and YFC AGRI Chair Tom Pope, the Ready for Change? event included panellists from Defra, the media and the financial sector to discuss the personal and professional impact of the current Agricultural Transition period.

Pope was joined by Defra’s Director for the Future Farming and Countryside Programme Janet Hughes, Defra’s Head of Farming, Innovation and Productivity Sarah Evered, Farmers Weekly editor Andrew Meredith, Director of Agriculture at NatWest Roddy McLean and YFC AGRI Vice Chair Sammy Allen from Nottinghamshire FYFC.

An online poll during the event revealed that the majority felt there was too little detail available about the changes within the current transition period. Hughes was able to outline the ambition as well as the timeline of schemes that had already been launched by Defra or that were scheduled to come out soon.  And while Hughes explained that Defra didn’t have all the detail yet, it was made clear that the government was taking a test and learn approach to prevent providing false certainty.

“You don’t say, ‘here’s everything I am going to do on my farm for the next seven years come what may.’ You do things, see what you learn, see what the weather turns out to be like and then you adjust and adapt your course. And we need to do this programme like that otherwise, we’ll fail,” explained Hughes who also reassured everyone that more detail is coming out over the next few months.

During the discussion, Meredith was keen to point out Farmers Weekly’s position through the transition period as a publication that would speak up for farmers.

“We want to break down the jargon, cut through the noise, and we want to distil exactly what it means for you as much as possible at farm level.” Meredith said.

“We see it as our role to speak up on your behalf and hold Defra to account and the other governments too as they develop their new environmental plans and do all the other things that interact with the farming that happens at a farm gate level.”

Both Meredith and McLean encouraged young farmers to reach out to industry mentors who would be invaluable to their future success and available if approached.

McLean also acknowledged the current cost of inflation and that future food prices would be affected. Despite these concerns, he felt confident that changes to interest rates would not exceed a 1% rise. He warned though about the pace of change and the need to ensure the human race survived the climate change challenge.

“I can’t remember when we’ve had to face so much challenge and change, not just in the sector but in our lives in general,” said McLean. “We have got to find a better way of doing things and how we live. If we don’t get this right, it’s not the planet we’re going to kill, it’s us that we’re going to make extinct.”

As a young farmer, Allen raised a concern about insecure prices and whether carbon yields would be the new pub conversation. Hughes agreed that the new normal would be comparing carbon yields as well as crop yields, and encouraged the concept of enterprise stacking and diversification for profitable businesses. 

Defra also confirmed it is continuing its extensive work on a future New Entrants scheme to identify the way Government might help young farmers overcome the three main barriers of access to finance, land, training and skills. Defra’s intention is to provide a framework and continue the valuable discussions already held.

The final topic of debate focused on the recent RABI research that highlighted the industry’s high rate of poor mental health. Pope outlined how farmers often felt overwhelmed by the public perception of the industry and the need for farming to be viewed more positively.

“It’s awful that there is such a high level of depression and suicide among farmers and I think some of the work that farmers do to make this something farmers talk about is really important,” said Hughes who hoped the Farming Resilience Fund programme would help people look at potential change and plan accordingly.

“I hope that the work we are doing, taken altogether, will help to present farming in a positive light. It will help people understand what the options are and that are available to them and for them to engage meaningfully in the biggest challenge of our time.”

The full discussion is available to watch online below.

09 November 2021

The National Farmers Union (NFU) is offering 39 YFC members the opportunity to attend the 2022 NFU Conference free of charge.  The deadline for applications to your respective NFU regional contact is 30 November.

The 2022 conference will be held on Tuesday 22 and Wednesday 23 February 2022, at the International Convention Centre (ICC) in Birmingham.

YFC places will be allocated on a regional basis, but each county must be represented. Your chosen representatives’ details should be submitted to the appropriate regional NFU contact, as listed here (hyperlink to the attached). (For your information, NFU branches must contact the NFU regional offices if they want to take up the places).

Advice on how to apply

  • Check the NFU regional allocation of places and decide which members you will put forward to represent the counties listed within the region
  • Nominate a county representative who will be responsible for submitting names, addresses, contact details and YFC membership numbers to the regional NFU contact. Representatives should liaise with the relevant YFC chairman before the regional submission is made
  • When you have selected the appropriate regional representatives from the listed counties, find the relevant NFU regional contact and submit your information
  • Further conference details will then be sent from the NFU regional office to successful YFC nominations
  • The deadline for submission is 30 November 2021 and must be adhered to – late submissions cannot be accepted.



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