Domestic Sheep, Welsh Mountain ewes, flock being herded by farmer driving Land Rover Defender and sheepdog on hill farm, Cambrian Mountains, Mid Wales(c) REX/FLPA / John Eveson

The education of aspirational young Welsh farmers is set to suffer after two main funding sources for Wales YFC were slashed. 

Wales’ Young Farmers’ Clubs (Wales YFC) has called for help to secure its future after it revealed it will lose £140,000 from 1 April this year due to cash cuts from Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and the Welsh government.

The cuts include £120,000 from the Welsh government’s National Voluntary Youth Organisations (NVYO) grant and £20,000 from NRW. They amount to 55% of the organisation’s total income.

“While we understand and expect that the organisation would have to take its share of pain from public sector cuts, the size of the eventual cut was a huge surprise.”
Iwan Meirion, Wales YFC chairman

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The grants programmes had previously been instrumental in enabling the organisation to maintain a vibrant programme of education and personal development to its 6,000 members across 155 clubs across Wales. 

Iwan Meirion, Wales YFC chairman, said the funding cuts were “extremely disappointing”.

“That funding is essential for us to maintain our educational programme for thousands of young people living in rural Wales,” he added.

“While we understand and expect that the organisation would have to take its share of pain from public sector cuts, the size of the eventual cut was a huge surprise.”

Mr Meirion, a forester from Corwen, said Wales YFC had enjoyed fantastic support from the rural public, stakeholders and public sector organisations over the decades.

He called on stakeholders to help secure the future of the organisation, which has “delivered so much benefit to many thousands of young people over the years”.

A Welsh government spokesman said application for a share of its NVYO grant from 1 April were “competitive” – and only seven out of 14 were successful.

“We have offered to meet the Wales Federation of Young Farmers Clubs to discuss their application, so that they can take this feedback into consideration in any future applications they may make,” added the spokesman.

An NRW spokesman said its funding schemes were “vastly oversubscribed”, with 206 bids for a total cash pot of £18m.

Farmers’ Union of Wales president Emyr Jones said: “We were naturally saddened to hear that the Wales YFC are the latest victim of substantial funding cuts. 

“The work carried out by the YFC all over Wales is valued and a true asset to agriculture. It would be a shame to see services provided reduced, which would ultimately affect our young people here in Wales.

“The union has been a long-standing supporter of the organisation and we will of course continue to assist them in any way we can.”

NFU Cymru President, Stephen James, said he himself will forever be indebted to YFC for the skills he learned as a member. 

He said: “No other organisation in Wales can offer rural young people the array of activities the YFC offer. These activities are essential to rural life and the farming industry in Wales and we are saddened to hear that Wales YFC has lost crucial financial support.

“NFU Cymru has had a long-standing relationship with Wales YFC and we as a union we are doing our utmost to assist them during these difficult times.”