National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

23 May 2011

Local infrastructure and services including transport, housing and access to broadband were top of the agenda for YFC members on the regional link day to the Houses of Parliament and the NFU London offices.

Agriculture & rural affairs steering group members, including vice chairwoman Norfolk YFC’s Helen Reeve, discussed their issues and concerns with Norfolk MP George Freeman, who shared his aim of re-empowering and invigorating local communities within his Norfolk constituency.

Helen highlighted the lack of a motorway system which made it difficult for goods coming in and out of the county, issues with access to broadband services locally, and scarcity of jobs for people leaving agricultural colleges, among other concerns.

“We have several members who are at agricultural college but very few have secure jobs at the end of their training. How can we ensure that these people stay in farming rather than being 'lost' to other industries? They're obviously keen on farming because they're studying it at an FE college but it can be discouraging when jobs are few and far between.”

She added: “There's also the issue of affordable housing. I know of many young people, myself included, who would like to get on the property ladder but with land and house prices rising, this is getting harder. What steps are there for people in my position?”

The MP said he was aware of the need to encourage vibrant communities that would be attractive to younger people and told the YFC delegates that Young Farmers’ Clubs members were doing all the right things in sharing their views and concerns and acting as advocates for localism.

He was also impressed that they were prepared to help shape future agricultural policy by inputting into such things as CAP reform consultations. “I am highly impressed by the knowledge and dedication shown by the Young Farmers’ Clubs members, for whom farming is not just a job, but a livelihood. I think it is imperative that support is given to technical and scientific research to enable the agricultural and horticultural industries to adapt and improve in an evolving climate. Infrastructure, such as reliable broadband and mobile phone access has to be in place in rural communities to allow the farms of the future to function adequately in business,” said Mr Freeman.

The group also visited the NFU Government and Parliamentary Affairs Office to learn more about the lobbying and campaigning role of the NFU and got some tips from senior parliamentary adviser Matt Ware on promoting both YFC and agriculture effectively.

He urged them to spread the word about the issues they were passionate about and to cultivate relationships for the future by talking to MPs and MEPs and inviting them to see what YFC is doing to help young people wanting to enter into farming and agriculture.

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