15 May 1998

YFs CALL FOR A STIFF TALK WITH MINISTER

Three nights of partying and a hearty helping of politics were the main ingredients of the

NFYFCs 1998 convention when more than 3000 young farmers gathered in Torquay,

Devon, but there were plenty of others as Ann Rogers reports

Young farmers were in militant mood at their annual general meeting. As reported in FW News last week, an emergency motion demanding a meeting with agricultural minister Jack Cunning-ham to discuss their farming futures in the light of the present crisis, received overwhelming support.

They also called for a British Standards logo to help consumers identify quality British-produced food. At present the wide variety of marks on British food leaves the consumer bewildered, said John Davies (Wales chairman) who proposed the motion. One universally accepted standard is needed, said Will Dunn from Devon who seconded it.

On the house-keeping front they voted to increase the national levy by 4% with effect from Jan 1, 1999. This amounts to 9p a year for a junior member and 27p a year for a senior, pointed out Chris Jones from Gloucestershire who seconded the motion.

But a plea from the Surrey federation calling for a couple of competitions for associate and advisory members to be included in the national programme fell upon deaf ears. Many delegates saw it as "a back way of extending the age range", a move which had been soundly defeated at the 1995 agm.

Reporting on the activities of the International Steering Group, retiring chairman Jonathan Eckley spoke of the strengthening of links with the Harvesting Opportunity Permit Scheme and the International Farm Experience Programme, as well as of the success of the Go-Global weekend in Gloucestershire. The Young Farmers Ambassadors (former exchangees) presented him with a cheque for £4000 to help pay the operating costs of the international programme – and he presented a cheque for £10,212 to Sight-Savers International.

This money was raised in a variety of ways by clubs across England and Wales and the charity will use it to protect rural African people from river blindness, a scourge caused by a parasite. An annual vaccination costs 50p a person. Young farmers are continuing to give their support to this work.

Included on the top table were steering group chairman NFYFC chief executive Brendan Loughran (7 from l), Chris French, retiring board chairman (8 from l) and Wales Chairman John Davies (right).

Chairman Andrew Woodward opened the meeting in the absence of the retiring president, the

Duke of Westminster.