YFCU congratulates the 2023 Ulster Young Farmer competition winners
This competition is one of the most revered events in the Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster’s (YFCU) annual calendar, and it is made possible thanks to the support and sponsorship of Danske Bank.
The competition serves as an excellent platform for young farmers to showcase their professional abilities and skills in the agricultural industry.
YFCU would like to extend their gratitude to all the agri sector associates who aided and adjudicated at various stages of the competition. Jack had to navigate through two preliminary rounds which assessed: sheep, beef, dairy, countryside management, finance, farm safety, arable, grass, pigs and poultry, general and innovation to secure a spot in the final, which was hosted at the CAFRE Loughry Campus, where he earned the title of YFCU’S Ulster Young Farmer 2023.
Farming Life caught up with Jack, to discuss the competition.
Tell us about yourself?
My name is Jack Johnston, and I am 28 years old. I work as a full-time dairy farmer and have been a member of Randalstown YFC for the past 15 years. Last year I got married to my wife, Lynne Johnston, who recently stepped down as vice president of YFCU.
How important do you think it is for young people to get involved in agriculture and farming?
Agriculture is a critical sector, and its future relies on the younger generation's fresh perspectives and energy. Therefore, it is crucial to have an influx of young individuals with innovative ideas in the farming industry.
What inspired you to enter the YFCU Ulster young farmer competition?
I have competed in the Ulster Young Farmer competition for many years. The competition is highly enjoyable and beneficial as it encompasses various aspects that I encounter in my farming operations throughout the year.
What was your favourite part of the competition, and why?
My favourite section of the competition was the 25-30 final stage, as it presented a real-life scenario where I had to devise the most effective strategy for farm advancement. This meant I could put all my knowledge from experience into practice and showcase my ideas.
What are some of the key skills and qualities that you think helped you to win the competition?
A valuable skill that helped me during the competition was remaining composed and not panicking when the solutions did not come to mind immediately. Additionally, the public speaking abilities that I acquired through my involvement with YFCU proved to be instrumental in delivering an effective presentation.
What advice would you give to other young farmers who are considering entering the competition in the future?
My advice would be to stay informed and up-to-date by regularly reading agricultural news publications and websites. This would help in gaining insight and knowledge on the latest farming trends and practices, which can be beneficial while taking part in the competition.
How do you think your experience in the YFCU Ulster Young Farmer competition will benefit you in your future career in agriculture?
Taking part in the competition provided an opportunity to enhance my knowledge base. If I provided an incorrect answer, the interviewer corrected me, allowing me to learn and expand my understanding of various aspects of farming. This knowledge will undoubtedly be beneficial in my future career in agriculture, enabling me to make better-informed decisions and improve the efficiency and productivity of my farm.
The Ulster Young Farmer competition also recognises the best overall junior, best under 21 and best 25-30 YFCU member.
Junior Ulster Young Farmer 2023 - Grace George, an active and long-standing member of Collone YFC, was declared the winner of the Junior UYF title. Grace was required to undertake a short multi-answer paper, followed by a second detailed multi-answer paper, and having successfully completed this stage she progressed to the interview stage. At interviews, judges seek to assess junior members in four categories: livestock, farm safety, countryside management and general. After judges reviewed Grace's performance in line with the scoring criteria from the three competition stages, she emerged as Junior Ulster Young Farmer winner. Congratulations on your fantastic achievement, Grace.
Ulster Young Farmer under 21 2023 - Jamie Bell from Gleno Valley took the top spot in the under 21 category and was awarded the Golden Plough Trophy. Jamie is an active member of Gleno Valley YFC and is always eager to get involved in YFCU events and activities. To earn the title, Jamie had to successfully navigate through multiple stages of the Competition, including two multiple choice papers followed by the final stage. The members who made it through to the final were invited to CAFRE, Loughry Campus, for an interview with 11 different judges to cover various categories, such as, beef, dairy, finance, innovation, pigs and poultry and more. A comprehensive scoring scheme that takes into account each stage is used to determine the best under 21 member.