YFC sets out to make young voices heard
YOUNG farmers, fed up being ignored by industry leaders, are now increasingly determined to make sure their views are heard loud and clear.
According to Jim Powell, newly-elected chairman of the National Federation of Young Farmers Clubs agriculture and rural affairs steering group, the needs of young people wanting to work in the industry have, until now, been largely forgotten.
"Although most people think the NFU is the voice of farming it not saying young farmers and nobody else is either," he said.
For that reason, the YFC has already started talking to policy makers
"Young Farmers do not like the word politics because we are a non-political organisation, but we are getting into policy. We are determined to make sure that we get heard by the right people, because the policy of today is the politics of tomorrow and the legislation that will kill your farm the day after."
Mr Powell, 28, who has managed a 253ha (625-acre) arable unit in Essex for the past two years, is determined to get results. He believes he has already had considerable success in putting the young farmers case to the people who matter. Representatives of his committee have met farm minister, Nick Brown, and are due to meet NFU president, Ben Gill, early next month. Mr Brown has also agreed to attend the YFCs annual meeting later in the year.
Lobbying has not been confined to London. Last week, a YFC delegation met EU Commission officials in Brussels to discuss the implications of the Agenda 2000 dairy reform proposals for young farmers.
"There are a number of key general issues which we need to address, one of which is the question of an installation aid. Last year more than 25,000 young farmers in Europe were helped by installation aids, but not one of these was in the UK because the government refuses to implement the scheme," said Mr Powell.
An early retirement scheme could also help younger farmers get into the industry.
"Other problems include rural housing, rural transport and the selling off of county council farms, which were the original stepping stone on the agricultural ladder.
"But one of the most important problems for the younger generation is that of responsibility. Many people leave college full of bright ideas but are forced to wait for years before they are allowed to take over the reins," Mr Powell said. *