National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

30 June 2021

A passion for food, farming and YFC has propelled Charlie Beaty from Warwickshire to the top spot of Senior Member of the Year 2021.

The young farmer impressed the judges with her experiences inside and outside of the organisation, including writing for Farmers Weekly and being involved in LEAF’s Farmer Time programme to connect schoolchildren with agriculture.

Charlie watched the results of the competition at home with her partner and her best friend and admits to hiding behind her hands as the names were announced.

“I’m over the moon! It’s my proudest YFC moment to date and probably will be my proudest, to be honest,” she said.

Following the advanced submission of her synopsis, Charlie faced an online interview with three judges to prove why she should be the winner. But she confesses to getting some extra guidance after the Area round, which really helped her final performance.

“My synopsis at the West Midlands Area round was fairly weak and I’m very grateful to the judges who gave me some feedback on how to improve it,” said Charlie. “They told me to really target the information I was including about myself and highlight the most important parts that made the most of my character.”

Judges' verdict 

The top tips proved successful as the judges were in agreement on their winner despite the high standard of the finalists.

Judge Neil Cameron said: “We interviewed an inspiring group of members. Each with a different personal experience and journey through YFC. There were some great ideas expressed through the organisation and it reminded me that YFC is made up of its members but also that YFC has transformed the lives of so many people over the years.”

Charlie has been involved in YFC for the past 13 years, taking on various roles and hopes to be County Chairman in the next membership year too. Her parents have both been involved in the organisation, with Charlie’s father being President of the club and Vice President of the County and her mother once having a job in the national office.

“Once I started showing an interest in going out with school friends on a Friday night, my parents got me into YFC quick,” laughed Charlie. “I wanted to go ice skating in Coventry and they suggested a Wednesday at YFC instead.”

It’s a suggestion that Charlie is happy she acted on as she believes the organisation has had a huge influence on her life so far.

“I have taken so much from YFC. Skills development, contacts, friends – it has made me who I am,” said Charlie who works on the family’s mixed farm. “My passion now is watching the junior members rise up through the ranks and I want to make sure they get the same out of it that I did.”

With membership numbers reduced this year due to the pandemic, Charlie is very focused on helping to improve those figures and promoting YFC. A recent trip down memory lane in the county office showed there were 18 YFCs in Warwickshire when Charlie was born but now there are only nine.

“One day, if I have kids, I want them to be YFC members as well, so we need to get those members back into clubs,” said Charlie. “I just want to make sure that everything is as strong as it can be so they get the most out of it. There’s nothing to rival YFC, there’s no other alternative where they could get the same experience.” 


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. 


 


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