17 May 2011
My very sincere thanks for all the warm and touching messages and gifts that I have received following my retirement as NFYFC president.
It has been an absolute pleasure and honour to have held this post whilst just having loads of fun with you all.
This has been the most incredible journey of my life and I couldn't have done it without the support of my family and my wife, Helen, and living on the edge of the motorway network!.
It has made me so very proud to stand as president. I describe myself as the most fortunate pensioner in the world, as my circle of friends has grown and grown.
Best wishes to each and everyone of you.
13 May 2011
The event, run as a traditional summer fair, brought together local and national youth organisations allowing them to promote their work and network with similar voluntary sector organisations, the public and government ministers.
Opened by the Lords' Speaker Baroness Hayman the fete featured Punch and Judy, Maypole and Morris dancing and the NFYFC team of Youth Forum members Aled Jones and Becca Watkins, and Steve Vincent, Ross Symons and Kirsty Carnell from the South West area led the welly wanging.
They spent time fundraising and chatting to Defra and NFU representatives about Young Farmers' Clubs and what they get out of being a member.
As well as an opportunity to network, NFYFC's delegates were able to see what other organisations exist for young people and visit London and Westminster. And youth forum spokesman Aled Jones even persuaded Baroness Hayman to try her hand at flinging a welly.
13 May 2011Hop over to the annual convention area of the website to give us your feedback on this year's convention and AGM in Blackpool.
12 May 2011Cheers and a few tears were the order of the day as more than 650 Young Farmers’ Clubs members and VIPs packed into the annual general meeting in the Spanish Hall of Blackpool’s Winter Gardens to conduct the federation’s business and celebrate the year’s achievements.
Proposing Countryfile and One Show presenter Matt Baker as NFYFC president, this year’s personal development steering group chairwoman Claire Swinburne (County Durham YFC) described Matt as “a president many a young farmer can aspire to” adding that NFYFC could look to him to promote awareness of the organisation in the wider community. Events chairwoman Hollie Harris (East Riding of Yorkshire) second the motion, pronouncing him “The One for the job”.
Once Matt had received his president's badge from 2010 chairwoman Helen Roberts, Lionel quipped that he had once been as good looking as Matt prior to 50 years with YFC, and that he was invoicing Matt for £1,076 which is what his grandchildren had spent voting for Matt in the Strictly Come Dancing competition.
A delighted Mr Baker told the federation: “It is a real honour. I know that Lionel is much loved by all of you and you are incredibly grateful to the legend that is Lionel. He has travelled the length and breadth and hasn’t been home at all. But what I can try to do is raise the profile of YFC with the public so that people can latch on to all your enthusiasm for farming and agriculture.”
Lionel was elected life vice president of NFYFC for his services to NFYFC and the YFC federations and was presented with a carriage clock, a book of memories and a commemorative photo of all the NFYFC chairmen and women who had served during his time as president.
Having moved the meeting to tears with his emotional farewell speech, Lionel received a standing ovation and three cheers from the audience – before carrying on with the business of the AGM in his usual inimitable style.
Pembrokeshire’s Katie Davies and Lancashire’s Katie Delaney proposed and seconded the motion that the 2010 deputy presidents be thanked for their services to the federation over the past year and that the following be elected for the year from May 2011-2012: Christopher Hunt (Eastern area), David Herbert (East Midlands area) Gary Davies (Northern area), Alethea Snelling (South-east area), John Lee FRAgs (South-west area), Gwynne Davies (Wales) and David Heminsley (West Midlands area).
NFYFC chairwoman for 2010 Helen Roberts and the year's senior officer team of Katherine Sealy (ARAC), Rob Cann (personal development), James Sage (competitions), Rhiannon Rees (events), and Enfys Evans (Wales YFC), presented the annual report (which is available to download online, with hard copies from NFYFC on request).
Gwent’s Mark Williams and Lancashire’s Sam Ainscow proposed and seconded the motion from NFYFC council that the audited accounts for 2010 as printed be adopted and Michael Harwood & Co be thanked for their services, and that Grant Thornton UK LLP be appointed as auditors for 2011.
A motion that the gross national subscription for September 2011 to August 2012 be increased by 10 per cent (approximately £1.04 per member) was proposed by Warwickshire’s Anna Blythe, in a speech which also won her the Sydney Fawcett Trophy for the member making the greatest contribution to the democratic proceedings at the AGM, and seconded by Kent’s Lucy Puttick.
Radnor’s Jonathan Williams and Pembrokeshire’s Aled Johnson proposed and seconded the amendment that the increase should be 5 per cent, which was carried when put to the vote.
Discovery continues to receive generous support from YFC, an association of past YFC members who have all travelled with NFYFC’s travel and exchange programme. YFA members help run the selection days and hosting arrangements and financial support. Staffordshire’s Donna Tavernor presented a cheque for £4,000 to Lionel Hill.
YFA scholars, Uttoxeter YFC's Jeffrey Goodwin and Cornwall's Emma Ead, also received cheques on behalf of YFA. Jeffrey will be travelling to Germany and Emma to Canada.
Rural Youth Trust presented a cheque for £16,000 to CEO Diane Calvert to help with the future of YFC by funding a strategic review and business plan for the organisation. The trust was set up as an independent charity to help all rural youth organisations and also offers and automatic grant of £500 to help start up new YFCs.
12 May 2011Practical measures for the next generation of farmers, seizing opportunities presented by the London 2012 Olympics and a positive attitude are vital in the promotion of British agriculture say Young Farmers’ Clubs members.
Debating the topic with a host of industry representatives at the NFYFC agriculture & rural affairs forum at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens at the weekend, delegates discussed practical ways in which to better promote the industry to a wider audience.
Natural England chairman Poul Christensen said that YFC was the best UK rural youth group and told the forum that, as farmers of the future, members should be concerned with our natural resources – the need to understand exactly what sustainability means and promoting the wider issues of farming and agriculture using all means available to them.
Suggestions from Young Farmers' Clubs members included use of technology and media, raising money to help promote the industry and being part of retailers' promotional activity. They were well aware of the need for sustainable farming and the need for a positive attitude in the industry.
Staffordshire YFC’s Harriet Wilson told the forum that, along with social networking sites, barcode apps for smart phones which showed the origin of food and where it was grown, could be one way of using technology to promote farming. “Retailers are targeting consumers via social networking, maybe this is something we can harness to promote British farmers,” she suggested.
Langport YFC’s Steve Vincent asked: “How many people know where their food comes from? Children are the consumers of the future and we need to engage with them now and make sure they appreciate where their food is coming from.”
“The assumption that teachers understand agriculture is a false one,” and Somerset YFC’s James Baker added: “We need to teach children more about where their food comes from. Capturing the older audience is a lot harder because children are more likely to ask questions.”
Joining the debate was National Federation of Women’s Institutes chairwoman Ruth Bond, who said NFYFC should join forces with other organisations such as the WI, Natural England and teacher training unions; support initiatives such as the Red Tractor logo, and the campaigns to use British and local producers, and do more to spread the word to the public and consumers using all media. “Young farmers are obviously passionate about what they do. Don’t miss the opportunity to join with other groups out there and tackle the issues that matter to you.”
Sainsbury’s head of agriculture Annie Graham stressed the need to grasp the huge opportunity for promoting both local food and British farming standards presented by next year’s London Olympics.
Gloucestershire YFC chairman Chris Bateman said: “Farming has to retain its image and allow people to take pride in where the food comes from. We have a huge chance to show athletes consuming British food, they are at the top of their profession and their image could mean a lot.”
Practical measures both for new entrants and those looking to retire are needed to help young people into agricultural careers. President of the European Young Farmers group CEJA Joris Baecke described as ‘alarming’ the fact that 30 per cent of Europe’s farmers are over 65 while less than six per cent are under 35, stating: “All over Europe there are young people who are ambitious, passionate and see opportunities, but there are challenges to them getting started. Who is going to provide all the important things society requires – food, maintaining rural areas, biodiversity and mitigating climate change if it’s not the next generation of farmers?”
NFU deputy president Meurig Raymond echoed the need for assistance in the form of financial measures and for the government and banks to help remove some of the barriers facing new entrants, including access to high levels of working capital required by business start-ups and more competitive loan rates, in tandem with a retirement scheme allowing older farmers to exit the industry. “There are people locked into the system because they can’t afford to retire,” he said.
Poul Christensen went on to acknowledge that young farmers did face challenges but the ‘awesome’ responsibility of having to provide food for a growing population was also an exciting place to be and that complaining was not the answer.
Urging them to avoid the ‘whinging’ in the wider industry and take a lead in promoting agriculture as an exciting and professional career he stressed: “The future is in your hands, don’t go to government and ask for more subsidy, just do it. There’s some really sexy kit on farms that should be used to appeal to youngsters interested in technology; tell media organisations you are the future and have ideas. Work with retailers, tell them your produce is better and show them you can deliver.”
09 May 2011
The Countryfile and One Show star was voted into the post by members at the organisation’s annual general meeting held at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool on 8 May.
Born in Durham and raised on the family sheep farm, Matt has been chosen by YFC members for his long-standing close connection with YFC through his mother Janice, who is Durham YFC’s county organiser, his love of the countryside, and his farming and agricultural expertise.
Speaking after his election Matt Baker said: “As a farmer’s son from the Durham dales, the countryside is a big part of who I am and so to be the president of the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs, celebrating that connection with our landscape and getting out there and doing stuff within it, is a great honour.
“I’ve attended many YFC events over the years so I’m very aware of the important role Young Farmers’ Clubs play and the many opportunities they offer young people in rural areas, as well as the huge amount YFC’s young volunteers give back to their local communities and other charities.
“There is a new appreciation of our British countryside, and agriculture and farming are changing rapidly. Young farmers are the future, and Young Farmers’ Clubs members have the energy and enthusiasm to drive this industry forward.”
NFYFC chairman James Chapman said: “We are delighted to welcome Matt to Young Farmers’ Clubs. Our members are really excited to have him as part of the YFC family. Matt has all the qualities I would expect from YFC members – he’s enthusiastic and motivated about the industry and rural life and his appeal and ability to connect with young people make him an ideal ambassador for the organisation.”
Matt takes over from retiring national president Lionel Hill MBE who was
elected life vice president in recognition of his services to NFYFC and
the YFC federations. Lionel had served as NFYFC president for the past
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