Led by young people, for young people, Young Farmers Clubs are voluntary organisations providing anyone aged 10 to 26 with opportunities to meet lifelong friends, learn new skills, and make a difference to their local community.
Originally formed to provide a type of agricultural apprenticeship, individual Young Farmers Clubs were formed locally with the focus on the keeping of growing and living things including calves, pigs, poultry, bees and gardens. Clubs in Lancashire date back to the 1920’s, with the County Federation being formed in 1938, just before the outbreak of World War II.
In Lancashire there are 19 local Young Farmers clubs providing opportunities for over 700 young people. Each club has an elected Management Committee of young people who are supported by past members. Young Farmers is probably one of the only youth organisations to allow young people to develop under their own management through this democratic structure.
The County structure provides a large range of services to the Clubs including competitions, events, education, training, promotion and development. All these things instil skills like leadership, team building and life skills needed for a successful future. Above all giving the members the confidence to air their views, make a change and be a strong individual.
We have recently celebrated our 75th Anniversary and throughout this time both local clubs and the county federation have successfully adapted to a changing environment and the changing needs of young people in rural communities.
Over our 75 year history we have had many notable achievements, not least surviving throughout arguably one of the most challenging periods in history, including World War II, massive changes in the agricultural industry, a number of recessions, foot and mouth and a reduction in government and council funding.
Agriculture, the countryside and rural affairs remain central to the life of YFCs, however, the social aspect of clubs and county are equally important. Club and county events provide opportunities for young people in rural areas, who may otherwise have limited contact with people of their own age, the chance to meet people with similar life experiences and make (often lifelong) friends.
For example, one young farmer has stated that without young farmers, he wouldn’t see anyone outside of school. He lives approximately five miles from any other young people and so young farmers is an essential part of his life.
Despite changes over time, a number of characteristics remain at the core of the YFC movement, these are:
- That YFCs and LFYFC are democratically run, led and managed by and for members
- Members are given opportunities to develop as individuals, giving them valuable skills and a sense of responsibility that prepares them for life and work
- There is a calendar of traditional and modern events and activities that promote healthy and supportive competition, often linking with Northern Area and National competitions
For example, public speaking and stock judging competitions have been held since the County Federation was formed in 1938.
The Competitions Committee, elected annually, runs a programme of 18 competitions throughout the year. Starting with Clay Pigeon Shooting in September, the competitions calendar includes traditional rural skills such as sheep shearing, fence erecting and stock judging, as well as others such as sports and public speaking which promote personal and social development. Competitions often involve many sub categories, for example County Rally has 51 classes including competitions as diverse as Lamb Judging and Jelly Decorating. As a result, there is ‘something for everyone’ and all young farmers will be involved in competitions at some point during the year.
Many of the competitions are social events in themselves; however, we also run social events that are also designed to help raise funds for the charity. The Social Committee, also elected annually, runs a programme of five social and fundraising events including an annual County Ball, Christmas or Carnival Ball, Dinner Dance and Spring Fling. These are sometimes added to with special events, such as a Northern Area social event when we host Northern Area competitions.