Can you take the reins?

Perhaps it was because farmers felt at home in the rural atmosphere of a livestock market, but a debate about the often difficult subject of succession planning was hailed a success.

Every year the Yorkshire Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (YFYFC) – which has a strong tradition of public speaking – hosts a forum. This year’s was titled Can you take the reins? and was held in the main ring at Skipton Livestock Market.

The panellists lined up under the auctioneer’s rostrum and the audience was seated around the auction ring. Among them was the recently-elected MP for Keighley Robbie Moore, who is from a farming family and is a qualified rural chartered surveyor, so has helped many clients tackle the often complicated maze of farm succession.

He spoke about the “four D’s” – death, divorce, debt and dispute – which were traditional triggers for looking at a farm’s future.

“It’s so much easier to tackle this subject in your own family’s time around the kitchen table rather than as a knee-jerk reaction to one of the four D’s when emotions will already be running high,” said Mr Moore, who in 2007 set up a plastic recycling business that has now grown to consist of a national network of franchises collecting and recycling farm plastic waste.

Others who had come along to support the debate included Dorothy Fairburn, northern director of the Country Landowners’ Association.

The event, which was sponsored by CCM Auctions and Crombie Wilkinson Solicitors, was hosted by Georgina Fort, a dairy farmer and chairman of YFYFC.

Panellists were specialist agricultural solicitors Clair Douglas and Lucy Steven, of Crombie Wilkinson, farmer’s son and chairman of Boroughbridge YFC George Gill, former YFYFC chairman and chartered accountant Helen Herd, chartered surveyor John Akrigg, David Moyles of The Samaritans and dairy farmer Ian Collins.

Ian, who supplies milk from his cows to the famous Longley Farm dairy, spoke about being in his early 20s with a three month-old baby when his father passed away suddenly back in 2004.

“With a bit of planning life would have been such a lot easier,” he recalled, talking about practical problems such as the freezing of the farm’s bank account.

“I couldn’t even pay money in – never mind take any out,” he said.

Other areas covered included death and tenancies, mental health challenges of taking on the responsibility of a farm and the fair treatment of all siblings.Forum snip 2020 image of panellists

Pastures New – YFYFC Office Relocation

YFYFC Move to Pastures New
Left to Right: Nigel Pulling (Chief Executive, Yorkshire Agricultural Society), Georgina Fort (YFYFC Chairman), Darren Coates (YFYFC Trustee)

AFTER more than 40 years in the same office, the team that supports Yorkshire’s Young Farmers’ clubs has moved to pastures new.

In a historic move, which marks a new era for the organisation, the Yorkshire Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (YFYFC) packed its belongings into a cattle trailer at the weekend (Feb 8th) and moved from its old headquarters in Knaresborough.

Just a few miles down the road, the new location in the Regional Agricultural Centre at Harrogate will be well-known to many of the federation’s 1,400 members …

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County Sports & Public Speaking 2020

One of the most eagerly anticipated competitions in the diary of the Yorkshire Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (YFYFC) took place at the weekend.  ((Sun, Jan 19th))

This year’s County Public Speaking & Sports Day was held at Harrogate High School, with many youngsters leaving home in the morning before it was light and travelling back in the dark after a very long day of competition.

In the sport, Harrogate district swept the board – taking the wins in all three categories of ladies’ netball, junior kwik cricket and men’s five-a-side football.

Members from Craven district were very strong in the public speaking, taking the Yorkshire Post Trophy for the highest overall marks in the competition.

Teams from the South West district took first and runners-up honours in the junior reading competition. Harrogate district took top place on the overall junior public speaking scoresheet.

For the intermediate age group, Harrogate district won the ‘call my bluff’ competition. The senior debate was won by a team from Craven district.

Jacob Ryder, from Harrogate district, won the junior member of the year competition, with the senior title going to Rachel Goldie, from Cledales district.

Just a handful of points separated sisters Lizzie and Anna Elgie, both of Boroughbridge Young Farmers’ Club, in the situations vacant competition. But in the end, after level-pegging for most of the challenges, Lizzie managed to take the win.

Alistair Wilkinson, from Ryedale district, won the ten minute speech with a humorous talk on how much money his initial £30 YFC membership had led to him spending, what with nights out, skiing trips, a girlfriend from a neighbouring club and … a baby!

County Sports was kindly sponsored by Hollings, Crowe Storr LLP and all the Public Speaking Competitions were kindly sponsored by Harrowells Solicitors.

Winners of many of the competitions, will go forward to the Northern Area Weekend, hosted by Lancashire Federation YFC, on the weekend of 29th February and 1st March 2020. From here, those who are victorious will go on to the prestigious national finals.Public Speaking 2020 10Rachel Goldie, of Cledales district, receiving the Senior Member of the Year trophy from County President Dave Scruton

Stockjudging Supremos

YOUNG farmers from Yorkshire were crowned overall winners at one of the most prestigious livestock events in the country.
The English Winter Fair, held at Staffordshire County Showground on the weekend of November 16th and 17th, is one of the most highly-regarded livestock events in the farming calendar. It is the country’s largest national winter primestock show.
This event sees young farmers from the length and breadth of the country putting their live and carcase stockjudging skills to the test, with different counties competing for the fiercely-contested prizes. When all the results were added up Yorkshire A scooped top spot, with Yorkshire D team taking third place honours.
Yorkshire A team members were Charlie and Jacob Ryder of Farnley Estate Young Farmers’ Club (YFC), Jack Henshaw, of Catterick and Silsden with Skipton YFC member Christine Lofthouse Pratt. The Yorkshire D team was made up of Ben Robinson, of Tadcaster and Wetherby, Matthew Maw, of Catterick, Emma Cockerill, of Kirkbymoorside and Catterick’s Rachel Henshaw.
Catterick’s Jack Henshaw took first place in the senior beef live and carcase competition, with Emma Cockerill, of Kirkbymoorside and Rachel Henshaw, of Catterick taking the overall team win for the lamb live and carcase competition. Emma Cockerill was individual winner.YFCWinterFair19

Went Valley District Flood Community Clear-up

Young Farmers cancelled their annual winter rally yesterday (Sunday) to help flood victims.

Doncaster flood 2019 website pic

For the first time in its history, the Went Valley district Young Farmers’ Club (YFC) winter rally didn’t go ahead. Instead, members donned waterproofs and shifted over 60 tonnes of rubbish to help the flood-stricken residents of Fishlake.

Lewis Marshall, Chairman of the Went Valley District of young farmers, which is made up of clubs in Doncaster, Pontefract and Selby, said the suffering of local residents had made it impossible to continue with the day of competitions and fun.

“What we’ve got is plenty of vehicles and trailers and strong young people,” explained Lewis, whose mum cooked breakfast for the helpers in Sykehouse Village Hall – which had already been booked for the cancelled rally.

“We aren’t the biggest of clubs but there were about 35 of us and we split into groups, going around collecting rubbish to fill multiple 14-ton skips and 15-ton bin lorries.

“We’d all seen the pictures on the news but until you are actually there in real-life you have no idea of the devastation. There were fridges in fields, cars in ditches. It was very humbling to feel we’d made a difference. Facebook has been full of residents thanking us and the council has gone from being wary of us arriving to so grateful for all that we got done and the money we will have saved them.”

The young farmers’ efforts were featured on local ITV television news programme Calendar. Several businesses made donations of cleaning equipment, food and drinks, including workwear company Arco which gave full protective equipment kits of body suits, goggles and gloves.

Lewis added that a few of his young farmer members have been affected by the flooding. His family farm is about four miles away from Fishlake.

“As farmers, we notice the Environment Agency failing to perform basic watercourse maintenance. Or if work is done, it follows European directives which have shifted away from dredging towards being more bothered about ecological status.

“Even some of our youngest members could talk knowledgeably about the importance of keeping ditches clear and dredging rivers. It’s infuriating that nobody listens to all the years’ of experience farmers have.”

Georgina Fort, chairman of Yorkshire Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs, added her praise.

“We were all devastated to see on the news the damage the rainfall has done to South Yorkshire,” she said. “Farming has been hit hard by the weather once again.

“In true farming spirit the area is pulling together and it is tremendous to see that YFC members put others first and cancelled plans for their winter rally and got together to help those that needed help.”

Young farmers won national praise earlier in the year when they helped with the clear-up after the floods in the Yorkshire Dales.

A huge thank you to the following companies that supported the clear up:

– ARCO UK (protective and safety equipment)

– Blacker Hall Farm Shop (pork pies and sausage rolls for volunteers)

– Marr Grange Farm Shop (food supplies and catering support)

– ASDA (endless supply of bottled spring water)

– British Red Cross (heavy duty hi-vis bomber jackets and coats)

 

Editorial by Sarah Todd

Yorkshire Post Rural Awards – Reeth YFC

Reeth award photo 2019

A prestigious awards ceremony has recognised the community-spirited efforts of one of our Yorkshire young farmers’ club.

Over 200 guests attended the Yorkshire Post’s 2019 Rural Awards, sponsored by Bishop Burton College, which were held at the Pavilions of Harrogate.

The BBC presenter Harry Gration presented the awards, which were attended by special guest Johanna Ropner, Lord Lieutenant for North Yorkshire.

Reeth Young Farmers’ Club picked up the Special Achievement Award for its efforts in coordinating a clean-up operation following the July floods which brought devastation to the Dales.

The club rallied more than 100 young farmers from clubs across Yorkshire and County Durham, who turned out to help re-build stone walls, collect debris and escaped livestock, as well as make repairs to buildings and fencing.

Members, parents and friends of the club made sure the volunteers were fed, watered and had all the equipment they needed.

Georgia Hird, secretary of Reeth Young Farmers’ Club – who collected the award with chairman Jack Stones – said: “The club was really surprised to be given such a wonderful award, it meant a lot to all of us.

“We are really grateful for the recognition of our work over the floods and we certainly couldn’t have done it without the help of neighbouring club, Wensleydale Young Farmers.”

Chairman of the Yorkshire Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs, Georgina Fort, added: “Reeth Young Farmers’ Club are a credit to young farmers, to the farming industry and to the community.”

You don’t have to be a farmer to be a Young Farmer!

A generation ago the recruitment slogan ‘young farmers do it in wellies’ was used to tempt youngsters to join the rural youth organisation.

Now, the marketing spiel is very much about not having to be a farmer to be a member of young farmers, with the organisation presenting a modern image for national Young Farmers Week, which runs until October 4th.

Step forward Stephen Jarmuz, 26, a recently elected vice chairman of the Yorkshire Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs. He started his working life as a sports therapist, specialising in helping injured cyclists, and now has a nine-to-five office job looking after contracts and relationships for the National Health Service.

All very collar-and-tie, but by night Stephen is one of the north’s most in-demand DJs and has brought a breath of fresh air and straight talking that has helped make sure that the county’s young farmers are being listened to on the national stage.

Stephen, who lives near Wetherby, has only been a member of his local Boroughbridge Young Farmers’ Club for four years so his rise to the higher echelons of the organisation is nothing short of meteoric. He’s now the club’s vice chairman, a district chairman and vice-chairman on the county stage.

“A friend got involved and it just sort of happened that I turned up,” remembers Stephen.

“It’s completely different for farming families; where it’s the done thing that when the kids turn ten they dump them on the doorstep of the local YFC club and pick them up two hours later.”

“I didn’t intend to get so involved, it was just something to do for one night a week but young farmers really is one of those organisations that you get out what you put in.

“It could potentially be daunting to turn up to a young farmers meeting. I imagined I’d stand out like a sore thumb, but YFC is genuinely the most welcoming and friendly organisation that exists. “Everybody’s young – it’s run for the members by the members – so I had something in common with everybody to start off with.

“I’ve learnt so many new skills such as public speaking. I already probably had the gift of the gab, but to learn how to stand up and argue the case for something properly is a really useful life skill. I recently went down to a national meeting and helped propose an amendment to a proposed levy increase and it was one of those pinch yourself moments.”

Although he doesn’t have a farming connection, Stephen grew up with a mother “madly into horses” and always enjoyed looking at the tractors and farm machinery at agricultural shows.

“I knew about young farmers,” he said. “But I would never have imagined myself actually joining.”

He started out as a DJ from the age of 16, doing friends parties locally and is now in demand across the north from Lincolnshire up to Scotland and has even done gigs in London and with Radio 1 big names such as Chris Stark.

“It’s a well-known fact that young farmers know how to party,” smiles Stephen, who now has two grey Fergie tractors and enjoys taking them to steam rallies and vintage fairs.

“I have just recently moved to my own house,” says Stephen. “But I had been living on a friend’s farm and helped out with quite a bit of tractor driving and at lambing time.

“I think what I’ve brought to the table, not having previously had any connection with farming, is to look at things through a fresh pair of eyes. To be aware of being inclusive.

“It’s a really key message that young people must not be put off joining young farmers if they are not from a farming family.”

Apart from a traditional break during the summer for harvest, the backbone of young farmers is weekly meetings. Programmes are usually very varied, from traditional farm talks and visits, to the more wacky and wonderful such as camel racing, pheasant plucking and pumpkin carving.

Charlotte Smith, presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Farming Today programme and Countryfile, is the president of the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs.

There is a huge charity element to young farmers. A good example is the Knaresborough club, which has raised £44,000 for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance since 2012.

“Meeting new people, learning new skills and, most importantly, having a good time. What’s not to like …?” concludes Stephen.

Stephen Jarmuz tractor

Article by Sarah Todd featured in the Yorkshire Post on 28th September 2019

Flood clear up day in Reeth

Reeth YFCStoneWalling

The Chairman of the Yorkshire Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs, Georgina Fort, has spoken of her pride at the organisation’s efforts to help flood victims.

An army of over 100 Young Farmers travelled from the length and breadth of the county – some from as far afield as County Durham – to help the clear-up effort.
Their focus was in the Dales village of Reeth, which has a race against the clock if the annual Reeth Show is to go ahead on August 26th .

A human chain of Young Farmer helpers gathered up walling stones that had been washed away with the force of the flood water and started re-building the walls.
“We were all so busy working there was no time to get emotional,” said Georgina, a dairy and sheep farmer from Silsden. “But when we stopped for a moment and looked out at what had been achieved over the day it was a very special moment.

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Great Yorkshire Show Stock Judging

Great Yorkshire Show Stock Judging

Young Farmers began their countdown to next week’s Great Yorkshire Show with a pre-show stock judging event.

The annual competition, hosted by Askham Bryan College, is organised by the YFC@GYS committee, a joint collaboration between members from the East Riding and Yorkshire Federations of the Youth organisation. The two sides of the county come together each year to run the YFC stand (number 187) at the Great Yorkshire and the stock judging competition is a traditional fundraiser for the committee. This year’s sponsors were the National Farmers’ Union, Farmers and Mercantile and Suregrow.

The overall winning club was Farnley Estate, with Broughbridge second and Kirkbymoorside third.
Results were:

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