26 April 2010
Communication, discipline and accepting and embracing change were the three top issues identified by YFC members as key to ensuring farming family businesses survive and thrive.
Clive Beer, of land agents Savills, told forum delegates farmers had to learn to talk openly and honestly with family members and be proactive about succession planning, adding: "Your destiny, your future can be empowered by you in terms of the decisions you make to affect a change."
"Communication can sometimes be most difficult in family situations. It can feel like we're attacking the people we love, which is the last thing we want to do."
Communication is often particularly difficult on issues where pride and fear are involved, including succession planning, Mr Beer told the forum. "You can end up in a situation where fathers and sons who work together every day can't have an honest conversation."
Time and a third party acting as a facilitator can help make it possible to tackle difficult questions. "I've seen many businesses go into liquidation because one person has kept control and there has been little communication. It's crazy that people don't engage with the change that they know is inevitable, like the CAP and tax legislation. Businesses that respond to this in the right way will have a competitive advantage."
Longer-term planning and strategy is also vital. "If you don't do this, ultimately you won't have a business. The people who are successful are those who can see the big picture, as well as being able to drill down into the detail."
After a lively discussion on the subject, the breakout group fed back through NFYFC agriculture and rural affairs steering group (ARAC) vice chairwoman Milly Wastie that farmers needed to find time to talk, plan and look at the bigger picture and not ignore the subject of succession out of fear of the future. YFC members felt formal minuted meetings would help families be disciplined about their business planning and that joint ventures, help with signposting and knowledge would help farm businesses to embrace change.
Future training around the subject of making difficult decisions will now be looked at by the NFYFC ARAC steering group.
The debate on successful farming futures was one of three topics under the microscope at this year's ARAC Forum at the NFYFC annual convention in Torquay.
26 April 2010
It is vital that young farmers make their views heard on how to reform the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), YFC members at the Your Europe breakout session of the NFYFC Agriculture and Rural Affairs Forum were told.
Experts from the European Commission and Defra told YFC members that there had never been a more critical time for them to engage in EU farm policy.
Defra's Nicola Clark and the European Commission's Mike Mackenzie encouraged young farmers to ensure they were as well informed as possible in order to fight the UK's corner on the future CAP and issues such as the single farm payment.
Nicola Clark told them: "Now is your chance to influence policy. You can speak to us at Defra and feed into the debate through the European Commission website because we want your views,” said Ms Clark.
Mike Mackenzie urged young farmers to get involved in the discussions rather than allow the rest of Europe to make decisions without their input. “Decisions taken in Brussels affect you in a big way but so far other nations have been more involved in the debate. You really need to get involved now,” he said.
The discussion group identified a number of action points for YFC members to take forward including engaging their local MPs and MEPs to make their views known; working with industry leaders and lobby groups including the NFU and CLA; and putting their opinions forward to organisations such as the European young farmers association CEJA. Other feedback included urging government to look at ways of making the future CAP much simpler and encouraging YFC members to contribute to the EU consultation on the future of the CAP through the European Commission website.
Do you agree with what your European counterparts are saying? Click here to download a copy of the statement CEJA has issued on what it would like for the future CAP reform.
The European Commission’s website opens up the debate to the general public. Dacian Ciolos, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, has invited all interested EU citizens and organisations to join the debate on the future of the Common Agricultural Policy, its principles and objectives.
24 April 2010
NFYFC chairwoman Helen Roberts welcomed guests from across the federation to her black tie reception held at the Riviera International Centre on Friday night.
YFC area and county chairmen and women, and presidents past and present, from across England and Wales gathered to celebrate the continuing work of the rural youth organisaton in supporting and developing young people living and working in the countryside. Helen also welcomed the Five Nations visitors representing YFC in Scotland and Ireland.
Helen highlighted some of the fundraising that had been done by members of some of the 662 Young Farmers' Clubs on the way to the annual convention and AGM being held in Torquay this year.
The first-ever person from Montgomeryshire and the first from Wales to hold the national role since 1990, Helen told her guests how proud she was to hold the national role, and how much YFC in both England and Wales benefitted by being part of the national federation.
Helen thanked all the staff and helpers and the Riviera International Conference Centre for their work in organising this year's convention, and extended a special thanks to the residents and businesses of Torquay for making the organisation so welcome.
23 April 2010
Saddle sore but in good spirits, Young Farmers' Clubs members from across England and Wales arrived to a warm welcome and glorious sunshine in Torquay for the start of the rural youth organisation's annual convention on Friday.
Tired but happy, members from a host of clubs had peddaled and paddled their way by land and water raising thousands of cash for their chosen charities.
Yorkshire YFC's amphibious craft made from recycled junk managed to make the journey to the beautiful bay in Torquay having set off from Huddersfield on Tuesday. The team had covered the 340-mile journey in a home-made contraption cobbled together out of bike frames and kayaks making use of canals along the way.
The trip will have raised more than £2,000 for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.
Members of Worcestershire YFC took turns riding two quad bikes from John O'Groats to Land's End, then back to Torquay, travelling 999 miles to raise £10,000 for Acorns Children's Hospice in Worcester and Diabetes UK.
They completed the final mile of their 1,000-mile target with a quick whizz around the car park at the Riviera International Centre.
Lancashire YFC completed their journey from Blackpool Tower ahead of schedule after a journey of 400 miles that will see £3,000 donated to the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI).
RABI will also benefit from the efforts of the four members of Kent YFC who cycled 300 miles.
Antony Morris covered 170 miles from Herefordshire to Torquay on a modified ride-on mower to raise cash for his local air ambulance service. Rebuilt to be road legal, Antony's machine achieved a top speed of 35 miles an hour and raised a few laughs from motorists on the way.
"It was a bit uncomfortable, but a lot of fun, he said.
Cornwall YFC also made the journey by bike and peddaled £5,000 into the coffers of Cornwall Hospice Care as a result.
23 April 2010
NFYFC president Lionel Hill MBE has been sticking the boot in for the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution - wading around in a pair of customised wellies and relieving YFC members of their cash for the charity as they arrived at the annual convention.
Lionel and representatives of the farming charity were kept busy handing out badges and filling green buckets with cash in a bid to hit the target of £100,000 set by NFYFC chairwoman Helen Roberts, who has chosen RABI as her charity for the year.
The charity, which helps members of the agricultural community in need, is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year.
23 April 2010
Young Farmers' Clubs members came to the rescue when a Torbay Youth Service minibus carrying local pupils got stranded on top of a low wall near the bowling green on Friday afternoon.
NFYFC national president Lionel Hill MBE lent his weight to the rescue mission, helping as passing YFC members pitched in to lift the minbus off the wall and back on to the road.
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