Young farmers doing it for themselves

YFC members have a voice, and now we’re being listened to.

Fellow YFC members and I often groan when we see letters asking who is championing young farmers and new entrants. The brief response is that we are.

We don’t do this entirely by ourselves because we have mentors, friends and supporters, but YFC members run an organisation that shapes its own future, good or bad. And I can say with confidence that we want a bright, prosperous future with agriculture at the forefront of our work.

Government initiatives

We decided at our convention this year that we would help promote British agriculture as well as bang the drum for young farmer/new entrant opportunities during the current CAP reform.

Our agriculture minister told us we needed to have our voice heard – I replied that we needed to be listened to, and I’m pleased that we have been invited to submit our input into future Common Agricultural Policy to DEFRA.

We’ve been involved with many industry and government initiatives over the past decade, breathing some welcome life into a lot of work with very few resources.

Future for young farmers

When we decided that the time was right to take our membership back into the European Council for Young Farmers (CEJA) we did so, and with a determination to prove that this capital spend would help reap benefits for future young farmers.

We have to justify expenditure and, crucially, we must have the support of grass roots members. They want to see results for work done on their behalf, and I want to see new opportunities for young farmers in the next CAP reform.

A quirk of our great British culture is to knock things that are good instead of celebrating success.

We are a busy organisation, responding to many needs: providing a social and personal development network; creating innovative training; inspiring young people to take part and achieve; making people proud to represent their rural community and be young advocates of the land-based industries.

Proud to be young farmers

We have the entrepreneurial spirit that the Big Society requires. We do this very well and we’re proud to continue a tradition that has been evolving for 80 years.

We’re also proud that we incorporate change – this organisation is about young people and what they want for their future.

We know we probably won’t get all that we require in the CAP reform negotiations, but we’re encouraged to hear that the EU recognises that young people are vital for sustainability and the future of farming.

There have been so many enthusiastic young people who have been denied opportunities in the past, who must be encouraged to make their claim now.

I reiterate what our national chairman said in this column earlier in the year – we’re proud to be young farmers and we will achieve more if everyone gets behind those of us who want to make a difference.

Young farmers are passionate about making things happen and we’re more than confident that we are helping ourselves.

*Milly Wastie is NFYFC Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee (ARAC) chairwoman

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