For the best part of a century, Young Farmers Clubs have shaped the lives of rural youngsters.
But as time moves on, such high ideals and worthy contributions are not enough to safeguard the future of an organisation which finds itself at a funding crossroads.
Outgoing chairman Ed Ford was accurate when he said the National Federation of Young Farmers Clubs faced a ‘reality check’ on how it was going to fund itself and its members going forward. The proposed 30 per cent, £5 increase may not seem like a lot, but it stirred the passions of members across the country.
As Lancashire and Yorkshire joined forces, they were able to leverage the fact national representatives had tabled the motion at a late stage in order to shout down the increase. They had every right to do so, yet the funding issue still lingers with only a sticking plaster in place to heal it.
Many in the regions feel the NFYFC could communicate more openly than it currently does about what it spends members’ money on and what benefits they are getting, and this is an obvious source of tension.
Whatever the view, however, it is evident Young Farmers now need to unite behind a clear plan and vision for the future. It is a big organisation with a significant income and all parties involved must surely work towards five or 10 year plans to safeguard its future.
It is one thing to acknowledge funding shortfalls exist, but they will only be plugged by having a clear strategy and leadership group, as in any business or charity. And if counties such as Lancashire and Yorkshire feel isolated, maybe it is time for everyone to come together and air their grievances with a view to a more positive collaboration.
Young Farmers is integral to rural communities across the UK, but now might be the time for it to define a clear plan on how it will remain relevant and solvent in a rapidly changing world.