National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

02 May 2012

Minister for Agriculture, Jim Paice MP, was a surprise guest at this year’s National Federation for Young Farmer’s Clubs Agricultural and Rural Affairs forum, and had to face some tough questions from members about the future of the industry.

The forum, which is an annual event for the organisation, is a chance for YFC members to interact with industry and government leaders and to have their voices heard in a national arena. This year the forum was looking to the future, with Yeo Valley’s Director of Marketing, Graham Keating, talking about the importance of brand and marketing to the growth and development of the industry.

Jonny Williams, Wales YFC Rural Affairs vice chairman, added that farmers need to have a whole range of skills to survive in this industry; “Agriculturalists have to be economists, commodity traders and current affairs specialists. They need to know of the latest disease challenges and chemical resistances, of weather patterns in Argentina, Ukraine and New Zealand, of demographics in China, India and Africa, not to mention the national debts of our European colleagues,” he said.

Helen Reeve, Chairman of the NFYFC Agriculture and Rural affairs committee, also stressed that skills and training would be key to young farmers, whatever the outcome of much anticipated CAP reforms. She announced some exciting new NFYFC projects. A feasibility project for a matching opportunity service and a pilot CPD programme to give YFC members as many opportunities for their future careers as possible.  Following on from work initiated last year between NFYFC and the British Wool Marketing Board (BWMB), the two organisations will offer YFC members the chance to visit BWMB’s Bradford headquarters and see the wool supply chain in action as well as training opportunities.

Representatives of British Wool Marketing Board (BWMB), were present at the Forum to provide information on BWMB’s work, the Campaign for Wool and details of the training courses BWMB offers. "While most sheep farmers sell their wool through BWMB many do not know what happens to their wool once it leaves the farm" explained Gareth Jones, BWMB’s Producer Relations Manager. "In 2012 we are teaming up with the NFYFC to offer YFC members the chance to visit BWMB’s Bradford headquarters and see the wool supply chain in action."

ARAC Forum The study trips will include the chance to see one of BWMB’s electronic wool auctions in action and also see wool being graded in the Bradford depot. Additionally, YFC members on a visit will be able to visit a scouring plant to see the next stage of the wool supply chain.

As well as looking to the future, the forum also celebrated this year’s winner of the Campaign for the Farmed Environment YFC Competition which demonstrates the support of YFC members for the campaign. Judges selected the winning team of Dorset-based Carl Hoskins, Julie Ridout, Matthew Cradock and Jennifer Diment – all  students at Kingston Maurward College - their assessment of existing habitats on Lynch Farm, in Bridport, and proposals to enhance the farmed environment while boosting the commercial business. The team’s proposal included both Entry Level Stewardship and voluntary options to support the CFE across its three themes; farm wildlife, farmland birds and resource protection.

Environmental sustainability was also an issue that NFYFC President Matt Baker held close to his heart, stating after the forum that; “If we want farming and the environment to survive together we are going to have to farm sustainably.” This was a topic which also arose during the Q and A session with Graham and the minister.

Members also raised concerns about support for new entrants into the industry and the spread of TB and asked how British agriculture could adapt in the new global market.

With London 2012 fast approaching, The National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs is teaming up with Natural England to run a series of cook-athons during the Olympic Torch Relay that will help celebrate the best of the country’s locally grown and sustainable produce. The ‘Great British Food for Great British Athletes’ initiative will see members of Young Farmers' Clubs showcasing local British produce at cookery demonstrations and events during the Olympic Torch Relay.

Mark Felton, Natural England’s Director for Land Management Development, said: “As well as their primary work of producing food, British farmers play a vital role as stewards of our countryside.  The Olympic Torch Relay Cooking Demonstrations will be a truly marathon undertaking and one of the most ambitious events ever held by YFC members.  It’s a golden opportunity for young farmers to enthuse and inspire local communities and young people across England about the role that they play in producing food and in the conservation and enhancement of our natural environment.

“Natural England is very supportive of the work of Young Farmers' Clubs and we are really pleased to able to be working with them and LOCOG in this exciting initiative.  We are looking forward to some fun cooking events and delighted to be sharing in the excitement of the Olympic Torch Relay.”

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