A year as National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs Chairman

A year as National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs Chairman

Dream It, Believe It, Achieve It

I have now had time to reflect on an incredible year as Chairman of the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs.  Young Farmers is all about challenging yourself so that you can achieve your full potential.  This is why I joined Culm Valley YFC in Devon 16 years ago to be part of the largest rural youth organisation in England and Wales, with over 24,000 members and 644 clubs.  

Don’t worry you don’t have to be a farmer to get involved, there is something for everyone.  Members enjoy making friends, participating in activities, brushing up on their farming and life skills, and not forgetting an unrivalled social life, raising over a million pounds every year for charity and giving countless hours to community projects.

This is why it was such a privilege to be elected as the National Chairman and in my year it was all about encouraging and listening to members.  I enjoyed travelling around the counties meeting members at various events, such as Rallies and Shows.  Every county has something unique and special about it.  The year was championed by delivering three key projects:

YFC Lifeblood

For me Young Farmers is the lifeblood of the rural community and this is why I launched the YFC Lifeblood campaign to encourage YFC members and supporters to give blood and register as an Organ Donor. Did you know that one of your blood donations can save 3 lives?

I took my donations throughout England and Wales to encourage members to get involved.  Young Farmers is all about healthy competition and this is why we challenged counties to win the YFC Lifeblood Trophy for the County who has the most registered donors.  Thank you to everyone who put so much effort promoting the campaign and congratulations to Berkshire for winning the trophy.

Club Exchanges

It has also been great to see the appetite for club exchanges, where members have hosted for the weekend to meet clubs from other parts of England and Wales.  This is guaranteed to be one of the highlights of the year where members gain confidence, make new friends and share knowledge about what makes their area special.

Agri-Discussion Groups and Post Brexit Debates

Post-Brexit we are at a time when everything is up for grabs.  It is fantastic to see the resurgence of farm visits and Agri Discussion Groups as this shows young people are hungry to play their part in shaping the future of British Agriculture.  

Many of the NFYFC officer team took the opportunity to get our views heard in industry forums.  Young Farmers are excellent speakers and I was able to do my bit by speaking at the Farmers Weekly Agri-Careers Event, Food Ethics Council, Lord Plumb Foundation Scholars reception and the Young Farmers Clubs’ of Ulster Post-Brexit Debate.

Celebrating Success

We had so much to celebrate from the phenomenal achievements in National Competitions finals to the record breaking attendance at the Annual Convention in Blackpool and not forgetting Wales YFC’s 80th and our Patron the Queen’s 90th Birthday celebrations.

So how do you become National Chairman or make the most of your time in Young Farmers?  A few tips that might work for you.  

  • Throw yourself into everything that YFC has to offer and have fun    
  • Set yourself a target on what you want to achieve and go for it
  • Be determined (it’s how you bounce back that shows real character)
  • Bring people with you (create a Mexican Wave)
  • Be positive
  • Say ‘Yes’ to every opportunity
  • Always be humble enough to listen to others  
  • Ultimately be yourself

Congratulations Young Farmers members on a fantastic year.  I cannot thank each and every member enough for the support I have had throughout my 2 years as NFYFC Vice Chairman and incredible help to become elected as your NFYFC Chairman.  Even if some of you just did it so you could eat more Milky Bar’s.

None of this will have been possible without the hard work and dedication of Club, County, Area and NFYFC Steering Group Chairman, National officers, YFC Staff, Supporters and Sponsors.

I had a wonderful experience and I am so pleased to see new Chairman Ed Ford and his Vice Chairman Lynsey Martin and Katie Hall taking it to the next level with an extremely important campaign on Farm Safety.

To cap it all off I am dead chuffed to be selected as one of 13 Farmers Weekly Rising Stars in the Agriculture and Food industry kindly sponsored by the Woodland Trust.

Here’s to a bright and prosperous Young Farmers future!

Chris Manley – NFYFC Chairman 2016/17