National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

31 March 2022

Janice Baker started her YFC career during the outbreak of Foot and Mouth in 2001 and is now retiring from her role as Durham’s County Organiser in the aftermath of a pandemic. Despite working through two disease outbreaks, Janice has fond memories of her time with YFC over the last 21 years.

What made you apply for the role of County Organiser in 2001? 

It was a case of empty nest syndrome! My daughter had just got married and my son (former NFYFC President Matt Baker) had left home for university. I saw the advert in the local newspaper and thought it sounded like an interesting job. 

I forgot about it at first but then when I bought the paper the following week, I saw the advert again and my husband Mike encouraged me to go for it. As it turns out, I had actually bought the previous week’s paper again, which is why I saw the advert twice as they had only ever put it in once! It was obviously meant to be. 

I got the job just on the eve of the Foot and Mouth outbreak. I pretty much packed up the computer and worked from home on the farm for a good few months. At least I had that experience to fall back on while we’ve been going through the pandemic for the last couple of years.

What are some of your highlights in YFC? 

Holding the Northern Area events was always a challenge as we’re such a small county – everyone has to pitch in, and they did. That has always been challenging but really worthwhile. We had a committee and there was a lot of team spirit. Helping to run the Northern Area events stands out as the best years for me. 

Another memorable event was the Olympic Torch Relay in 2012. Our County held an Olympic breakfast for the dignitaries in the Council. 

We’ve done a lot of stuff over the years. We were really successful in the recent competitions’ year. We won the Ladies Tug of War and there was lots of really good competitions that the members have done really well in. 

What kind of County Organiser were you? 

Hopefully I was quite approachable. People would come and chat about all sorts of things, which was a nice compliment. 

I was strict about people sneaking into balls without a ticket though! They used to climb through the windows but they soon realised that wasn’t going to happen anymore. Everyone knew where they stood. 

I have had some wonderful county chairs – every one has been different but brought something to the party. They’ve all left their stamp on things and had ideas and we’ve carried them through. They all stick out in my mind and they’re still friends now. Many of them help with judging and still get involved. 

Do you think YFC is in a strong position? 

I’m so pleased that the membership is going up. People are really keen to get out and do things after the pandemic, which can only be a good thing. We have more members now than we had when we started! 

YFC is changing, which is right because it has to move with the times. It’s no good saying “we always did it like this before,” we must adapt to do things in the way this generation wants to do it. 

As far as I’m concerned, it’s a good opportunity now for someone else to come into my post with new ideas and strengths and to try different things. That’s the only way we can progress, isn’t it? 

Shouting about all the positive work YFC does is so important – there are so many good people involved, who are willing to help and have brilliant ideas. They raise thousands for charity and they all help each other develop. 

I have also seen so many couples get together through YFC, marry, have children and now I’m issuing membership cards to their children – so it’s definitely time for me to get out! 

Do you have any plans for your retirement? 

I am going to spend a bit more time with my husband. I’ve also got some new breeds of sheep on the farm and I’m interested in concentrating on the breeding side of that. Just having a bit more time to mooch about and do some boring things like gardening. I have some lovely show chickens that I will be carrying on with – and that will take me round the country shows and will provide the same sort of atmosphere as YFC. 

It will be nice to have a bit of time with the grandchildren too because I have been really busy with everything. 

We will also be doing more filming with Matt for Our Farm in the Dales series! We only did the series because Matt was at the helm, but it’s been a lot of fun. 

As I am still in the farming community, I am sure I will keep in touch and meet up with people. I will be watching social media to see what everyone is up to. I’m not just going to disappear completely. But I am looking forward to a couple of months of not doing anything! 




 


31 March 2022

Requests for more agricultural training opportunities for YFC members was highlighted in NFYFC’s recent training survey and new offers will now be highlighted more frequently.

NFYFC is working with Lantra on a range of training opportunities and is currently promoting Lantra’s Agriculture Health and Safety: How to Meet Your Legal Responsibilities course, which has a 10% discount for YFC members. You can apply online for this course for just £18 – get access here.  

County Federations are also encouraged to source funding to help YFC members access discounted agricultural training opportunities. Derbyshire successfully applied for just under £100,000 of grant funding from the Prince’s Countryside Fund to offer their members access to a range of agricultural training courses – from chainsaw training to trailer tests. 

County Administrator Stacey Archer said: “We discussed the idea at a County meeting and one of our members Michelle Matkin volunteered to do all of the paperwork to apply for the funding. We were awarded just under £50,000 in our first application  and gained a further £50,000 in a second round of funding too.” 

Derbyshire’s scheme, called Training for Safety, was launched in 2012 and after the second successful grant application relaunched again in 2015. The scheme trained more than 300 YFC members offering them multiple opportunities to learn key agricultural skills and all for a minimum contribution from YFC members of £25.     

Michelle Matkin researched the kind of courses members were interested in as part of her application to the Prince's Countryside Fund, which helped provide evidence of need. Michelle explained: “I did a survey to find out what courses our members would be interested in, which I included in the application. Through the scheme we offered a vast range of courses, including a first aid course so that we had something accessible for our junior members to do as well. Members saved hundreds of pounds by doing the courses and gained a lot of new skills."   

The County is now looking at applying for more funding so they can start the scheme again but they are aware of the work involved. 

"There are grants out there, and it's worth checking with your local council too, but be prepared for the work involved in applying and the reporting back you will need to do if you are successful," said Michelle. "There's a lot of paperwork involved but it's worth it for the benefits it offers to members."

As well as the Lantra 10% discount offer, YFC members can also get 10% off training with Embryonics and 50% off ATV training with EASI. 

For more information about applying for funding from the Prince’s Countryside Fund, see here. The next round of funding applications close at midday on 12 April 2022.


30 March 2022

Lincolnshire’s flat landscape and rich soil make it ideal for arable farming but for those just starting out in the industry, it can be cost prohibitive. It is also a more challenging location to find grazing land, as YFC AGRI Chair Charlotte Garbutt is finding as a new entrant livestock farmer.

Charlotte bought a small holding back in 2018 with her partner and has invested in a pedigree Limousin herd, while also working a full-time job in the industry. 

How difficult has it been to find land?  

It is predominantly arable land around here, so there’s not as much grazing grass to access. Land by us is £8-10,000 an acre so it’s pretty untouchable for someone just starting out. And you can’t just rent some land one year and put your cattle on it as you need to know the grazing history from the previous year. You might have to leave it 12 months before you can even graze your cattle to reduce the disease risk. 

If we wanted to buy the land, the prices are still high and it’s just getting access to that grazing land. If there are landowners who would be happy for us to graze their grass that would be brilliant. said Charlotte who is hoping the Government’s new entrant pilot scheme will result in more support for those just starting up. 

Do you think the Government need to do more?  

I think there needs to be more incentives for farmers to consider putting grass into rotation – I think a government scheme would be beneficial for new entrants. 

When land is for sale, you’re always up against people with capital they can borrow against or who can afford to buy it – we just aren’t as attractive. If there were better government-backed loan schemes available for new entrants, it would really help. 

Are you concerned about future land use?  

The state of affairs in Ukraine at the moment and the impact on farmers unable to drill their crops has huge implications on food security globally. As such a small island, the UK should be in a position where the majority of our food should be supplied domestically. We need to consider how we can support farmers in the UK so we can do this. We need to focus more on making British food affordable in comparison to imports and really promoting the benefits of buying British.

Do you think you will be able to farm full-time in the future?

We both enjoy our jobs in the industry but we would like to build up the farm so it brings in an income. To farm full time, we would need to consider where we are and other enterprises, as we’d have to have a serious amount of cattle to do it without a job. 

We know it’s going to be a slow process but we just need to try and secure more land so we can continue to produce pedigree stock for commercial and pedigree markets. Ideally, I would like a flock of pedigree Blue Texels, but I need to get a bit more grass, cash and my partner on board with that idea first! 

Read the Future Land Use survey highlights.


30 March 2022

Eight YFC teams will be busy rehearsing this Easter ahead of the national Performing Arts finals, sponsored by Kuhn, on 23-24 April in Warwickshire. 

The national finals of the Pantomime will be staged at the Spa Centre in Leamington Spa and will also include interviews with seven Senior Member of the Year finalists, who will also be hoping for victory during the weekend. The Senior Member of the Year competition has been kindly supported by Tama this year. 

The Performing Arts final has not been held since 2019 and this will be the first Senior Member of the Year competition to be held in person since before the pandemic too. 

Competitions Chair Drew Bailey said: “We can’t wait to be back watching YFC members performing on stage again. We have really missed the Performing Arts competition over the last two years. 

“It is also a brilliant platform for our Senior Member of the Year finalists to share their success with a wider audience.”

Supporters packing out the Spa Centre across the two days will be cheering on the following Pantomime finalists: 

  • Alberbury YFC, Shropshire 
  • Cheriton & Tedburn, Devon 
  • Wedmore YFC, Somerset 
  • Maendy YFC, Glamorgan 
  • Whitley Chapel YFC, Northumberland
  • Drigg YFC, Cumbria A
  • Bedwas YFC, Gwent
  • Buxton YFC, Derbyshire 

The seven Senior Member of the Year finalists who will be vying for the top spot are: 

  • James Nixey, Buckinghamshire 
  • Stephanie Colwill, Devon 
  • Charlotte Atkinson, Derbyshire
  • Molly Phillips, Worcestershire 
  • Rachel Black, Bedfordshire  
  • Robert Tuer, Cumbria 
  • Sioned Davies, Ceredigion 
  • Raiff Devlin, Brecknock

The winner of the Senior Member of the Year will be announced during the Annual General Meeting on Sunday 24 April, 2022. Pantomime finalists will hear the results after performances on Sunday evening.   

 


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