YFCU president highlights key stakeholder role

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The Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster (YFCU) will continue to play a key role as a stakeholder group at the very heart of the farming industry, according to the organisation’s president Roberta Simmons.

“We will continue to do everything possible to highlight the challenges facing agriculture at the present time, and to put forward equitable solutions,” she said.

“Only in this way can a sustainable future be created for young people within agriculture. YFCU is totally committed to securing a sustainable future for agriculture, one which will encourage young people to develop worthwhile carers for themselves within the industry. If young people turn their back on farming, this puts the entire future of the industry in jeopardy.”

Simmons was speaking at the recent YFCU annual meeting for 2016. The event saw herself and James Speers, re-elected to the positions of president and deputy president respectively for the next 12 months.

She confirmed that YFCU has joined forces with the Ulster Farmers’ Union to develop a land mobility service, adding: “The research phase of the project is now almost complete. When up and running the new service will put older farmers with no direct succession options into contact with young people who want to develop a career within agriculture. Such an approach will directly benefit the various parties involved, but it will also ensure that all our land is farmed efficiently.”

The YFCU president said that the organisation’s membership is about to break through the 3,000 barrier.

“Last year, I encouraged our members to go beyond the farm gate in terms of their commitment to the rural areas in which they live and work,” she added. “And this had tremendous resonance in the context of our ‘Know Your Neighbour’ scheme. Looking ahead, I am asking all our members to ‘Innov8’.

“This year I want us to make changes to what is already established by introducing new methods and ideas. I want to challenge each member to do “8” new things, whether it be at competition level, taking on an office bearer role or sitting on Central Committees. We offer the chance to innovate our members through developing skills and learning needs for leadership, business development and growth. Innovation has been a key part of YFCU’s success over several decades. Programmes and initiatives that have been developed to meet the needs of rural young dwellers have proven to be of value to young people in a variety of settings.”