Young Farmers Club membership fees are set to increase by 3% after members voted at the YFC AGM in Blackpool to increase levies in a bid to overcome funding shortfalls.

Club members were urged to “bite the bullet” and accept the increase after the Department for Children, Schools and Families turned down the NFYFC’s annual funding request, leaving the group with a £140,000 shortfall to pay for its youth development and training scheme.

The increase is expected to be the first stage of a £6 increase to membership fees over the next three years.

Hugh Richards, NFYFC honorary treasurer, said the DCSF had been asked for £1m over three years to fund the scheme, which includes the YFC competitions programme.

“They decided to withdraw all their funding, leaving us with a problem of funding in 2008,” he told delegates.

“We have to bite the bullet to balance the books in the year to come.”

Mark Thomas of Somerset FYFC said in real terms, the 3% increase would only equate to about 30p per member.

“We need to increase the levy in line with inflation at the least to ensure YFC’s continuation and success,” he said.

“The request for funding was unsuccessful and although it was a kick in the teeth, we have picked ourselves up,” he added.

See pictures of the 2008 Young Farmer event on our dedicated picture gallery