National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

30 June 2021

A fresh approach of collaborative support for skills and establishing sustainable businesses were highlighted by young farmers in discussion with conservation farming experts at a YFC AGRI event at the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust’s (GWCT) Allerton Project Farm.

Regional YFC AGRI representatives provided input for a future guide and made the most of sharing their farming and land management experience whilst considering future business viability and skills needed. The event was part of a Defra-supported NFYFC business skills project for young farmers and also involved a tour of the Allerton Project.  

In a discussion that explored ways to help new entrants and next generation farmers deliver sustainability, the group agreed that clear food labelling showing environmental impact will be part of the necessary marketing tools for consumer awareness. They also agreed there was a need for a practical, realistic approach to the effects of seismic policy change and trade deals.

“We know we’ll need additional skills for future farming and to adapt our business plans and practice, but the thorny issue of competing in a high-risk sector without an established trading track record, or the necessary capital needed for the longevity of land-based businesses, isn’t going away just because policy changes,” said Tom Pope, YFC AGRI Chair.

“Next generation farmers have a positive and realistic approach to emerging and future trade deals, but we need clear labelling so that consumers can make an informed decision about purchasing,” added Tom. “We also need a uniform tool for carbon calculation and final policy details to ensure that we can plan efficiently. We need to ensure that the public understands our standards of production and environmental considerations in future policy and land management practices.  If the UK is going to make a global stand on tackling sustainability, we support the challenge ahead but need to have the necessary support, incentive and tools to do this.”

The group of regional young farmers benefitted from rigorous questions, considerations and a practical demonstration of conservation farming with GWCT’s Phil Jarvis and Joe Stanley.

Tom said: “Despite the challenges ahead, we are optimistic and determined for our business plans to succeed, happy to work with Defra and industry, but we’re also interested to pursue innovative models of private and public support. We’re proud that we produce food and look after the environment while taking an holistic approach to sustainability, so we need a common sense and workable plan for young people to be attracted to, and survive, in current and future land-based businesses.

“Our YFC AGRI group meets regularly to discuss a range of farming and rural issues so we can feedback accurately to Defra and industry, and Saturday’s event continues to highlight the issue of financial and business viability, as well as the many possibilities for adapting our businesses for future policy change. It also highlighted some of the misconceptions and lack of understanding by policy makers of the practicalities needed to ensure that land-based businesses are both financially and environmentally viable. We want to be part of the solution for future sustainability, but also need to be listened to so that we can be an active part in finding practical solutions.”

Joe Stanley, Head of Training and Partnerships at the Allerton Project: “It’s always a pleasure to speak to the next generation of farmers, and I’m continually humbled by the passion and can-do attitude they display.

“Here at GWCT Allerton we strive to demonstrate the resilience that agri-environment projects can contribute to productive farm businesses, and these will be an increasingly important strand of future income. But as these NFYFC members highlighted, it’s incumbent on government to demonstrate its commitment to our young farmers by taking their input onboard and collaborating to present a compelling vision for the next generation.”


 


30 June 2021

As Plastic Free July gets underway, a new challenge to encourage YFC members to enhance the environment in their local rural areas is being launched by The National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (NFYFC) in conjunction with the Environment Agency.

The challenge, named YFC Operation Green, is supported by NatWest as part of its wider support of National Young Farmers’ Week 2021. The aim of the challenge is to encourage Young Farmers’ Clubs (YFCs) to deliver local environmental projects that ensure YFCs and their rural communities are here for generations to come. YFCs are being asked to take this action during NFYFC’s 90th anniversary membership year, which starts in September 2021.

Litter and fly tipping remain a huge problem in the countryside – especially following the increased number of visitors to green spaces during the pandemic. Excess waste has a detrimental impact on wildlife and YFCs can help to do something about it and support their local communities.

Working with the Environment Agency, NFYFC is asking YFCs and County Federations to organise a project in their local community that positively contributes to improving the natural environment. They are also encouraged to work with local schools or other community groups to get a project underway.

This can include litter picks, cleaning up local areas, improving areas such as the village hall or planting trees and improving natural habitats.

YFCs can start their project at any time, but they are being encouraged to make plans over the summer and take action from September onwards in the build-up to National Young Farmers’ Week (25-29 October 2021), supported by NatWest.

YFCs are also being asked to gather advice and resources to action, record and promote their green operation. The Environment Agency is also supporting certain counties with free litter picking kits to make the job a little easier! Other YFCs outside of the funded areas can contact their local authorities for support.

NFYFC’s President Nigel Owens MBE said:

“The countryside has been a great escape for so many during the pandemic but sadly it has also resulted in a deluge of rubbish being left behind, which is harmful for wildlife and creating a mess for local people. YFCs are in a great position to work with their rural communities to launch YFC Operation Green projects that really make a difference to their local environment.”

Claire Horrocks Environment Agency Project Officer said:

“Through the Preventing Plastic Pollution Project, the Environment Agency is working with 17 other organisations in England and France to both understand and reduce the impacts of plastic pollution in the marine environment.

“Those working in agriculture can play such an important role in protecting our environment and help inspire the next generation to reduce waste and reuse more of our precious resources.

“We hope YFC Operation Green will be a fun and inspiring way to help YFC members to think about the plastic they use and the responsibility we all have to reduce unnecessary plastic use and manage our waste properly.’’

Ian Burrow, Head of Agriculture and Renewable Energy at NatWest, said: 

“As COP26 principal banking partner, we are committed to play a leading role in tackling climate change, which is why we’re proud to support this new challenge that will see young farmers help to protect and preserve their local environment.

“Our wider support for National Young Farmers’ Week 2021, which takes place 25 to 29 October later this year, also demonstrates our commitment to the next generation of farmers, including how they can take a leading role in their rural communities.”

To view the new online YFC Operation Green toolkit, visit here.  



 


28 June 2021

A project focused on improving the mental wellbeing of YFC members was just one of the achievements that helped Ruth Cooper from Cumbria win the Junior Member of the Year 2021 title.

It was the first time that Ruth had made it through to the national final of the competition, despite competing at numerous Area rounds in the past. She attributes this year’s success to the range of YFC activities she has been involved in during the pandemic.

Not only was Ruth Chair of the Youth Forum last year – the steering group set up to represent younger members’ views – but she also led the group’s work on a mental wellbeing campaign called Take Time, and presented at the British Youth Council.

“I know I was lucky to be able to still get involved in so much YFC work in such a big way during the pandemic,” said Ruth who wants to train as a mental health nurse from September. “Mental wellbeing is very important to me and YFC is so great for combatting rural isolation and bringing people together in a positive way.”

After so many attempts at Area rounds, Ruth was delighted to be in the final.

“I was beaming to even be at the interview. I gave it my all and the judges were really nice. There are only so many interview questions you can get so because I have done it so many times, I was well rehearsed and able to share what I have done over the last year,” said Ruth who watched the results announcement at home on the family’s mixed farm with her mum.

“It was absolutely incredible to win,” added Ruth. “I cried, especially after so many set backs at Area rounds. To get to national was an achievement but to win was the cherry on top of the cake.”

The judges Stephen Jarvis and Helen Williams were impressed with all the competitors in the final.

Stephen said: “A big well done to all the members who competed, the standard was particularly high. We have seen lots of enthusiastic members and they were all extremely passionate about the organisation, so it has been a pleasure to judge the competition.” 

Ruth's top tips

• Don’t put lots of words on your presentation slides, use images instead to enhance what you are saying

• Keep something back from your synopsis for the interview. It’s good to surprise the judges with some new information about yourself rather than just repeating everything that’s in the synopsis. 


 


25 June 2021

Young people are being asked for their views around policy proposals for future land use as part of a new research project by The National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (NFYFC) and researchers Rose Regeneration.

Next generation farmers, rural young people and YFC members will be asked to consider the challenges as well as suggested solutions for a diverse range of policy aims for land use.

Considerations and competing factors for future land use include food production, net zero, conservation and environmental goals, as well as housing and development.

Those taking part in the online survey will also be entered into a prize draw to win a pair of UBOK or USBOK (safety) boots to the value of £104.95, courtesy of Bushgear.*

NFYFC’s YFC AGRI steering group is working with Dr Ivan Annibal and Dr Jessica Sellick from Rose Regeneration following the success of last year’s Your Post-Brexit Rural Future survey. As well as a short, online survey, researchers from Rose Regeneration will attend the Cereals 2021 event (30 June-1 July) to talk face-to-face with visitors at the show.

Giving young rural people a voice 

Supported by Defra, the research project aims to ensure that young people living, studying and working in a rural environment can express their opinions to help shape emerging policies.

Tom Pope, from the Somerset Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs and Chair of YFC AGRI, said: “We must make sure that those of us who will feel the impacts of changes to policies affecting the countryside share our views.  There are plenty of other groups who may have conflicting opinions, so spend a few minutes answering questions so that our collective voice is heard.

“We appreciate the many requests for surveys during this time of policy change as well as input to meetings and other YFC commitments, but please make sure this survey is one you don’t miss.”

Dr Ivan Annibal, Managing Director of Rose Regeneration said: “Many voices are at play in discussing the future of farming. It is crucial that we make sure the views of the younger generation, which represent the future of the sector are heard. I really hope the YFC community will take this opportunity to share their wisdom and insights with us.”

Tom Pope and YFC AGRI members will also be hosting two discussion events at Cereals as part of the Young Farmers’ Sustainable Solutions Seminars in the AHDB Theatre. 

NFYFC has worked with the organisers of Cereals for a second year to help shape the young farmer programme and YFC members can save 40% on tickets to the event via its membership affinity deals.

To complete the survey visit here. 

*Terms and conditions apply

  • The prize is a pair of UBOK or USBOK (safety) boots to the value of £104.95, courtesy of Bushgear.
  • Gifts, prizes and other promotional items are not transferable, may not be re-sold and are subject to availability. The Promoter reserves the right, in their reasonable discretion, to substitute any such gift, prize or item with a gift, prize or item of equal value.
  • Bushgear accepts no responsibility for any costs associated with the Prize not specifically included in the Prize.
  • The winner’s name will be available on request and published on NFYFC’s social media channels, the website and in any shared media. Contact telephone number and address of the winner will be required to arrange delivery of the prize.
  • By participating in this prize draw, entrants confirm they have read, understood and agree to be bound by these terms and conditions.


23 June 2021

Exploring regenerative agriculture and using suitable machinery is the focus of the latest podcast recording in the Kuhn Farm Machinery UK series.

Meet the Farmer podcaster Ben Eagle interviews Ed Worts, Kuhn’s Product Specialist and Russell Carrington, Manager of Knepp Regenerative Farms for an insightful discussion about regenerative agriculture; the benefits, controversies and continued communication needed. The conversation also highlights the possible future opportunities for new entrant livestock farmers to work collaboratively if integrating livestock to arable systems.

Regenerative agriculture is a farming system that aims to enhance the eco-system on the farm and is focused on soil health as well as water and nutrient management. The interview includes the ways in which Kuhn is working with farmers to support them if they are moving to regenerative agricultural systems. 

“Regenerative agriculture minimises soil disturbance, maximises crop diversity and also integrates livestock, even in an arable enterprise,” explains Ed during the podcast. “There are many ways of achieving these goals and it depends on the farmer’s situation as to how it’s approached. It takes time and perseverance to make it work.” 

Russell, who used to be manager of the Pasture-fed Livestock Association, discusses his opinion of the benefits for livestock and Ed raises the different principles and methods to achieve regenerative agriculture. The conversation includes cover crops, crop diversity and integrating livestock to improve organic matter, with benefits ranging from alleviating compaction and increasing soil water holding capacity to resilience of extreme weather. 

“Kuhn is a machinery producer but we’re always looking for solutions to help farmers improve and work with them to design machines that can help achieve their goals,” says Ed who explains the ways the company is adapting its machines, such as the Direct Drill, to minimise soil disturbance. “We have identified that we need to be as adaptable as possible.”

You can listen to the latest podcast and the two previous episodes here

YFC members can get a discount to the Groundswell event mentioned in the podcast – see here. 






  


22 June 2021

It was the second time Amy Boothby from Staffordshire FYFC had made it to the national final of Situations Vacant but this year she actually got to compete in it and win the trophy!

Amy, who is County Chair of Staffordshire FYFC, is a big fan of the Situations Vacant competition and has won the County round three times and twice at the Area round. After qualifying for the national final last year, her achievement was thwarted by Covid-19, as the competition had to be cancelled.

Determined to compete nationally, Amy managed to qualify for the national finals again this year and went on to win it.

“I’m Situations Vacant’s biggest fan,” said Amy. “I am such an advocate of the competition. I have been doing it for three years, so I have a lot of experience now. It’s the closest YFC competition you’re ever going to get to the real world.

“No one can prepare you for what an interview is going to be like, and you can take away advice and experience from this competition. That’s why I have always come back to it as you can never stop refreshing your interview skills.”

All competitors are asked to choose a job advert from the last 12 months for a role they would like to pretend to apply for and then submit a CV and covering letter two weeks in advance of a live interview with the judges.

Amy chose to apply for a Mechanical Design Engineer position as she had the relevant skills and experience for the role which had been gained during her time at Harper Adam’s University while studying for a degree in Agricultural Engineering.

All of the interviews were held online and Amy was given a 25-minute grilling from the judges.

“They asked some tough questions, such as ‘tell me about the time you had to overcome a challenge and the steps you took to overcome it.’ Both judges were very personable, and I took a lot from what they said during the interview.

“Situations Vacant is such a good competition for networking, as you never know who the judges are going to be on the day and you never know how they might help you in the future.”

Two experienced recruiters were involved in judging the national final. Karen Loveland, a senior consultant at Cameo Consultancy, is involved in recruiting positions at all levels, and Rachel Berns who runs her own HR consultancy business and has worked in HR for more than 14 years.

"We were very impressed with the high calibre of candidates. The interviews were outstanding. I interview people every day and I would love to work with you all individually as I could get you into jobs straight away,” said Karen who also reminded people to think carefully about how they can make their CV and covering letter stand out.

Rachel added: “It has been a pleasure to judge this competition because every single participant’s ability to communicate was exemplary and it was really enjoyable. Congratulations to the winner.”

It was the first year that the national final had been held online and the results were announced via a video on Facebook, which Amy watched at a BBQ with her family.

“We were all gathered round my phone at the BBQ watching the video,” laughed Amy. “I was completely shocked, and I don’t think it’s sunk in yet.”

Top tips from the judges:

  • Think about the whole process of applying for a role. Your CV and covering letter are just pieces of paper – what can you do to make them sing
  • Think about how you stand out from the crowd – you want to bring your skills and experiences to the forefront of your CV and make them stand out.
  • Highlight those skills in the covering letter as well.
  • Make sure the recruiter knows you’ve got what it takes to do the role and succeed and why they need to pick up the phone and get you in for an interview.


Social


Designed by Kevyn Williams