National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

30 October 2018

NFYFC joined forces with farmers, landowners and environmental groups to bring a united message to Parliament, on 30 October, calling for the Government to commit to long-term funding for the policies detailed in the new Agriculture Bill.

David Goodwin from Warwickshire FYFC and Vice Chair of NFYFC's AGRI Steering Group attended the event to represent YFC members' views.

"We've had a very positive day as part of a collaborative lobbying approach for long-term and sustainable conditions for our farming future," said David. "It's widely recognised by industry and policy makers that young farmers play an essential role in the future of the industry. Both the Secretary of State and our farming minister recognise the part we can play in a future agricultural environment and the financial measures needed to support this."

While the groups each seek independent amendments to the Agriculture Bill more widely, they are united in their advocacy that a commitment to long-term funding is crucial to achieving the Government’s ambitions of feeding the nation with high quality food alongside delivering environmental benefits. 

The organisations jointly hosted a drop-in event in Parliament to present this message to MPs and Peers. Alongside NFYFC were the Agricultural Industries Confederation, CLA (Country Land and Business Association), National Farmers Union, National Sheep Association, Nature Friendly Farming Network, Soil Association, Tenant Farmers Association, and Greener UK which represents a coalition of 13 major environmental organisations including National Trust, RSPB, Woodland Trust, WWF and The Wildlife Trusts.

Defra Secretary Michael Gove was urged to support the organisations’ unified bid for the Agriculture Bill to establish a long term multi-annual budgetary framework, that delivers certainty for the rural economy and farming.

Below is a view from each organisation that was involved in the mass lobby event. 

Country Land and Business Association (CLA)

Good land management, and profitable farming delivering a healthy environment requires long-term planning. The CLA fully supports Government’s aspirations for a productive farming sector that also provides a range of public goods for society, but politicians must recognise that delivery of new policies in the Agriculture Bill will require change and investment by farms and landowners. Greater certainty on longer-term funding intentions will help provide the confidence needed to make these changes. 

National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Young farmers envisage a progressive, dynamic exporting industry that offers attractive and viable career routes for young people. To help make this vision a reality we need to be able to plan and invest in our future. We need long-term political financial certainty to ensure that our intended long-term investment is a realistic option. We want, and need, the Agriculture Bill to establish a multi-annual budgetary framework to provide that certainty and viability for the next generation.  

Woodland Trust

There is a much-heightened awareness of the important role that trees play in society and of the need to significantly increase planting rates in this country.  The Woodland Trust wishes to see a far more integrated approach to land management that enables the many benefits of trees at a variety of scales – from larger scale planting to smaller agro-forestry initiatives – to be realised for the benefit of society. It therefore broadly welcomes the Agriculture Bill and particularly its move towards the payment of public money for public goods.

It is essential however if the Bill is to fulfil its potential - and we are to achieve the increase in tree cover that enjoys such strong cross-party support – that the Bill is amended to provide a long-term funding mechanism.  Land managers need to have confidence in the new system that sufficient support will be forthcoming to back them in delivering key public goods like more resilient and biodiverse habitats, flood alleviation and healthy soils. 

National Farmers Union (NFU)

Whilst not on the face of the Bill itself, the NFU welcomes the government’s commitment to maintain cash total for farm support funding until the end of this Parliament (expected in 2022, but possibly sooner). Longer term we believe that the current levels of public investment in agriculture should be maintained.

We believe that the Agriculture Bill should establish a multi-annual budgetary framework that provides certainty for famers and allows them to plan and invest for the future, under clause 33 (Financial Provision). Budgetary cycles should be independent of the parliamentary cycle to reflect the need for long term planning and investment and to avoid the agricultural budget becoming politicised and subject to annual discretionary spending decisions.  There should be scope within the Bill for minsters to “carry over” any monies left unspent at the end of a particular budget year for spending in subsequent years.   

National Trust

The National Trust cares for a quarter of million hectares of land in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and has 1,800 agricultural tenancies. Along with other organisations in the Greener UK coalition, we believe the Agriculture Bill should place a duty on Ministers to set long term, multi-annual budgets that reflect the scale of financial need associated with the Government’s policy objectives. The Bill should also specify the timeframe over which these budgets would be set, and provide a means by which funding would be allocated between the four countries of the UK. If the government wants farmers to get on board with its new system of land management – where land managers are paid to deliver the public goods that underpin sustainable, long term food production - it must provide the certainty and security of long-term funding, backed by first class and first-hand advisory services which are properly resourced. 

Tenant Farmers Association

Creating a domestic agricultural policy for the first time since the 1970s is a significant opportunity.  Linking with the Government’s 25-year plan for the environment, we have a unique platform to build long-term resilience and sustainability for farm businesses, the wider rural economy and the landscape and biodiversity supported within the farmed environment.  For 40 years we have relied upon the budget arising under the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy with its own multiannual budget over 5 to 7-year periods.   As we leave the EU and create our own policy we must maintain the discipline of planning public expenditure within a multi-annual, budgetary process.  We welcome the commitment to maintain the budget within agriculture until the end of the Parliament, but it is essential that thereafter there is a robust, multiannual budgeting process to give farming the confidence to invest in productivity and the production of non-market public goods. 

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)

The RSPB welcomes the Government’s intention in the Agriculture Bill to use public money to secure public goods, but these often take years to realise. For example, restoring peatland habitats to provide clean drinking water, carbon storage and reduce flood risk for communities can take fifty decades. And as a long-term industry, farmers need certainty over the funding available if they are to engage in a future policy with confidence. At present, the Agriculture Bill is silent on this key issue. To provide confidence in the Government’s proposed reforms, the Bill must include a mechanism that secures long-term funding for farmers and land managers so that they have sufficient support to deliver the public goods we all depend upon. This amendment should provide certainty about the timescale over which funding will be available, and require an independent assessment of the funding needed to secure the objectives of the Bill.  

The Wildlife Trusts

The Wildlife Trusts believe that nature is vital to our long-term economic prosperity and our individual wellbeing, but the natural world is in decline. Urgent action is required - and agriculture policy is vital to this. The Agriculture Bill represents a unique opportunity to put in place the measures needed to support nature’s recovery. It should ensure that substantial government funds are allocated to the creation of new and expanded habitats for wildlife with appropriate provision of public access. Crucial to the success of the Government’s proposed new Environmental Land Management Schemes will be guaranteed long-term funding, set at the level required to deliver its ambition to leave the environment in a better state for the next generation.  

Agricultural Industries Confederation

The Agricultural Industries Confederation is a member of the Agri-Brexit Coalition - 8 trade associations supplying goods and services to UK farmers. We have a mutually-dependent relationship with UK farmers.  They rely upon the skills and knowledge of trained advisers, technicians, technologists and researchers, plus the commercial expertise of our members.  The necessary investment, recruitment, training and ongoing development of these people will only continue if commercial organisations are assured of an ongoing income stream to justify this. The same applies to investment in physical facilities.  Seed processing plants, port facilities, agricultural machinery manufacturing, production of animal health and plant protection products – all require commercial certainty for companies to feel confident in making medium and long term investments. The benefits of planned investment in UK Agriculture plc are obvious but crucially must be underpinned by concrete economic assurances that UK farmers and farming will remain viable. 

World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)

WWF want to see productive agricultural systems that improve the health of soils and rivers, help tackle climate change, and conserve and enhance habitats and species. The Bill is the most significant legislation on agriculture in almost 50 years and with over 70% of the country being farmland, its implementation will greatly affect the future of landscapes across all the nations of the UK. The Bill and accompanying Policy Statement can only be realised however, with committed long-term sustainable funding. 

National Sheep Association (NSA)

NSA represents sheep farmers from across the country. Our concern is that the sheep sector is going to be one of the hardest hit by our exit from our exit from the EU both in terms of trade and the Agriculture Bill. Sheep farmers need the stability of a long-term funding commitment. Their business decisions are long term endeavours and the decisions they make will be informed by stability they can see. NSA would like the treasury to commit a long-term budget to accompany the Bill, which stands regardless of the political, economic and environmental turbulence and ever-changing Governments. Sheep farmers play a huge role in providing public goods. Where it comes to providing landscapes and environmental features for the public good, the work that farmers put in will lead to long term and permanent changes. Farmers will require committed and long-term funding to support these changes, they should not run the risk of losing support according to political changes.

For more on the Agriculture Bill, visit here.




22 October 2018

 The National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs’ Council voted to support its Board of Management and Officer team at the Council meeting in Coventry on 20 October 2018.

A clear majority (83%) of all Council members present, which included representatives from County Federations across England and Wales, voted against the motion of a vote of no confidence in the Board.

During the meeting two amendments to the vote of no confidence were put forward and both were also defeated.

The members of Council and the Board of Management are committed to working together to develop the strategic plan and ensure the Federation continues to support thousands of rural young people.

The Council also agreed to appoint a Working Group of YFC members to lead on the membership’s input to the organisation’s strategic plan.

NFYFC’s Chairman of Council Lynsey Martin, from Kent FYFC, said in a letter issued to all members following the meeting: “As I saw throughout National Young Farmers’ Week, we all love this organisation and are proud of what it achieves. That was evident this weekend when YFC members represented your Counties and are helping to shape future plans.”

The weekend also included meetings and reports from each of the five steering groups on issues relating to agriculture, competitions, events and marketing, youthwork, travel, training, rural and youth related issues.

Competitions

Fay Thomas, Herefordshire FYFC, Chair of the Competitions Steering Group announced the date and location of the Performing Arts and Senior Member of the Year national finals in 2019. Performances and Senior Member of the Year interviews will take place in Leamington Spa in Warwickshire on 11 May – the same weekend as the Annual General Meeting, which is to be held on Sunday 12 May.

It was also confirmed that the Choir and Ballroom Dancing competitions will be held in Staffordshire during Competitions Day in July.

The 2019/20 competitions programme was also revealed with Commercial Dance, Cheerleading, Kwik Cricket, Football, Netball and an environmentally themed Cube Exhibit among the line up.

The 2018-19 competitions year begins in November at the English Winter Fair with teams competing in the Live & Carcase competitions at Bingley Hall, Stafford.

Events and Marketing

Chair of the Events and Marketing Steering Group Michael Wood, from East Riding of Yorkshire FYFC, announced that the group will be looking into the feasibility of hosting future national events using feedback gathered through the strategic plan.

The steering group also wanted to encourage clubs to add the social media Curve modules to their spring programming as updates are currently being made to the content of these useful modules.

AGRI

Events were also a highlight in the AGRI Steering Group report from Chair James Hutchinson, Wiltshire FYFC, including news that NFYFC would be at AgCareersLive (stand 39) at Villa Park, Birmingham on 15 November. 

Plans for a fringe event at the Oxford Farming Conference with the Rural Youth Project were promoted, as well as plans for a regional AGRI event in Warwickshire.

The group is also looking at organising a weekend event in Derbyshire in early 2019 comprising farm and diversified business visits, discussions with young conservationists and farm walks. 

Personal Development

George Goodwin, Staffordshire FYFC, Chair of the Personal Development Steering Group was pleased to announce that the Curve training target that had been set for 2017-18 had been exceeded. There were a total of 2,933 YFC members completing Curve modules and 26 counties delivering training during the year.

Three new Curve modules will also be made available for clubs to run, which include Anti-bullying, Future Farming and Equaliteas.

All steering groups discussed supporting the #iWill campaign, with a focus on the environment, and proposals are being developed for ways clubs and counties can get involved.

Youth Forum

Finally, Meg Watkins from Herefordshire FYFC, gave the report for the Youth Forum and discussed the developments to the Watch that Cowpat game. New fact cards have been created to support the game and will be shared with committees in February.

The Forum has also had two motions added to the British Youth Council’s manifesto concerning lack of affordable rural housing and rural mental health.

A full report from the weekend’s Council meetings will be made available to county offices this week. Any YFC members with questions about the Council meeting should speak to their County Representative in the first instance.





22 October 2018

A letter from NFYFC Chairman Lynsey Martin to all YFC members

Hello everyone,

After a weekend of important discussions, I really wanted to take a moment to share some thoughts with you from the Council meeting.

Yesterday your democratically elected Council debated all the reasons why the Convention was cancelled and decided to support the Board in its decision.

A motion for a vote of no confidence was not passed with a clear majority (83%) supporting the Board. Two amendments made to this motion were also debated and defeated.

Your concerns were raised and discussed by your elected Council members during the meeting. At your next County Exec you should expect to hear more details about the Council’s discussions.

The Council is currently putting in place a group of YFC members to lead on the membership’s input into the strategic plan. Watch out for future opportunities to have your say.

As I saw throughout National Young Farmers’ Week, we all love this organisation and are proud of what it achieves. That was evident this weekend when YFC members represented your Counties and are helping to shape future plans. If you would like to read more about the Council meeting, please see here.

Finally, I am going to steal some words from a Life Vice President and former President of this organisation that were made at the AGM earlier this year. I think Poul Christensen’s following message about YFC is so appropriate for us all.

You have something really precious Young Farmers – nurture it, treasure it, grow it. You’re holding it in your hands. Don’t drop it because it is immensely important, not only to you, but to future generations.

Best wishes,

Lynsey

NFYFC's Chairman of Council 2017-18

A version of this letter was sent on 22 October 2018 to all YFC members who have registered an email address with NFYFC.




10 October 2018

NFYFC has released a new report that evaluates the impact of the community support given by Young Farmers’ Clubs during its Countryside Challenge project. 

The Countryside Challenge, with funding from the Cabinet Office and Pears Foundation, supported five community projects per quarter over two years.

YFCs could earn up to £400 to put towards their community and environmental project and NFYFC also offered tools, resources and training to clubs.

A total of 546 young people took part in projects funded through the Countryside Challenge and 36 projects were awarded grants totalling £14,400.

Dorrington YFC is one of the case studies included in the report as the club restored and resurfaced a play park – helping it to become a valued community facility.

One YFC member who took part in this project said: “It was a great day, with the village committee keeping us fed and watered and, although it was hard work, there was a great feeling of accomplishment.”

The report also shows the positive perceptions of YFC following the completion of a community project. It demonstrates that social action projects provided YFC with a valuable platform to showcase not only their capabilities to deliver high quality projects but also the important contribution they make to wider society.

Lynsey Martin, NFYFC's Chair of Council, said: "This report helps to show the true impact of the Countryside Challenge project and what YFCs achieved. The evaluation demonstrates how big a difference YFCs can make in their local rural communities and the positive impact it has on the wellbeing of those who take part in supporting their community."        

To read the report in full, which was prepared by Impact Consultancy and Research for NFYFC, download it here.



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