15 January 2010
NFYFC farm business development competition winners Nicola Hamer and Jack Hopkins began their new year considering the future of farming at the prestigious Oxford Farming Conference, their prize for winning the competition last year.
They attended three days of presentations and talks by speakers including Defra minister Hilary Benn MP, shadow environment minister Nick Herbert MP, 2009 Farmers Weekly young farmer of the year Adrian Ivory, and Australian farmer David Brownhill whose family farm spans 11,700 acres.
Among the highlights of this year’s conference was the Oxford Union Debate on the motion that all farmers should retire at 60, seconded by former NFYFC agriculture & rural affairs committee chairman Douglas Jackson and passed by a vote of 180 to 163. Current chairwoman Katherine Sealy argued that the motion was short sighted as young farmers needed time to learn how to run a farm and shouldn’t be forced into a job they weren’t ready for.
Nicola and Jack said: “The talks were all very interesting and focused on the future opportunities and challenges that face us all, not just those involved in agriculture. These included the issue of increasing food production by 40 per cent over the same area of land by 2050 due to a forecasted population figure of nine billion by 2050, while contending with the environmental pressures of water supply, rising temperatures, soil management and GM opportunities.
“Everyone we spoke to was pleased to see young attendees, especially from the NFYFC, and we found it encouraging how highly they rated the NFYFC farm business development competition. The whole experience was brilliant. The people we met and the speakers we listened to taught us such a lot.
“The competition alone was a huge learning curve for us both and this conference, a fantastic prize, has really developed our aspirations for the future. Both demonstrate the challenging but exciting times farming holds for us,” they added.
11 January 2010
Young Farmers’ Clubs across England and Wales have pledged their support for a Health & Safety Executive (HSE) campaign to cut the high number of deaths each year from unnecessary farming accidents.
Working in agriculture remains one of the most dangerous ways to make a living. It accounts for around one in five work-related deaths every year, although only 1.5 per cent of the working population is employed in the sector.
Across Great Britain, 38 workers lost their lives in farming-related incidents between January and November 2009 and figures for 2008/09 show that 589 people were seriously injured in farming accidents.
Nearly 15,000 farmers have already signed up to the campaign. And NFYFC vice chairman James Chapman, who lost his arm in an accident that could have also cost him his life, is calling on all 23,000 YFC members to make a new year’s resolution to help cut the annual death toll by pledging to come home safe from the fields.
“The National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs has proudly made the promise, to come home safe. Encouraging farmers to work safely has always been one of our key priorities and during 2010 we will be working closely with the HSE to promote the campaign in our clubs across the country.
“I know only too well what can happen when safety isn’t put first. I lost my left arm when it was caught in an unguarded PTO shaft. It happened because I, like many farmers, was working under pressure trying to get a job done as quickly as possible.
“Today I regularly speak to young farmers, using my experience positively as a warning of how important it is that they take the time to consider their safety and what can happen if they don’t,” said James.
Learn more about the Make the Promise campaign and pledge to come home safe on our dedicated page.
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