28 April 2010
28 April 2010
Wales YFC is celebrating after Kay Lewis of Glamorgan YFC was named the YFC Senior Ambassador of the Year.
Kay claimed the new title, which replaces Senior Member of the Year, after impressing judges with her professionalism and achievements within the organisation.
As one of seven competition finalists, Kay faced tough questioning from a panel of four judges before appearing before fellow YFC members to give a presentation on her role and achievements within YFC.
A member of Neath and District YFC for 12 years, 23-year-old Kay has held the posts of stock judging captain, publicity officer and secretary. She has also been a representative of the Wales Rural Affairs Committee and council. Kay works on the home farm and works part-time for AB Agri.
Danusia Osiowy, features editor for Farmers Guardian which sponsored the competition, praised all the finalists for their enthusiasm and determination to succeed within NFYFC.
“With all the negative press young people receive, it is easy to tarnish the minority as the majority,” she says. “Sitting in front of seven eloquent finalists, I found myself in admiration of their genuine enthusiasm, achievement and sheer determination to spread the positive message of YFC.”
Katie Winfield of Uttoxeter JNFU was named runner-up.
This is the second year in a row Wales YFC has taken the title, which Kay takes over from last year's Senior Member of the Year Caroline Dawson.
28 April 2010
The annual report for 2009 is now available to read online or download from the club resources page
26 April 2010
Rural housing needs to be put at the top of the agenda for the next government to enable young people to go into farming and for rural communities to survive.
Catherine Brabner of the National Housing Federation told the ARAC forum at the YFC agm in Torquay on Saturday first-time buyers were being forced out of the countryside, and rural communities were at risk of becoming the preserve of the wealthy, second-home owners and the elderly.
"Housing has barely come up during this general election and we need to get it much higher up the political agenda," she told YFC members attending the forum to debate housing, secure farming futures and future CAP reform.
"Rural communities need to stay as mixed communities, where people are able to buy a paper, have a pint or go to the garage for petrol. Affordable housing has to be an essential part of that."
English Rural Housing Association's Adrian Maunders told YFC members they needed to turn to their councils to get help locally rather than relying on government for change.
"Our land use policy allows affordable properties to be built, but money put aside for affordable rural housing hasn’t been spent over the last few years," he said.
YFC members debating the issue identified house prices, being outbid by developers, the struggle to get land passed for development and the additional problems faced by single young people trying to find affordable homes as key issues facing young people looking for an affordable roof over their heads in rural areas.
YFC members went away resolved to stand up and make their views heard by lobbying and petitioning at local level and strengthening their case by suporting one another. "Knowledge is power," discussion group facilitator Hollie Harris told the forum. "Persistence is key. Pester your parish councils, and your district councils, confirm there is a need for affordable housing."
NFYFC's rural housing guide can offer help with this issue.
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.
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