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'Joining a YFC is probably the most important decision I have made in my life'

Joseph Watkins, 27, works on the family farm, helping to manage the farm’s suckler herd. He also has his own small herd of pedigree Herefords and helps with the potato side of the business, which supplies local fish and chip shops.

YFC: Joining a Young Farmers Club (YFC) is probably the most important decision I have made in my adult life, as aged 19 and just out of school I did not have a clue what my future was going to look like.

 

All of my friends were going off to university and moving onto the next part of their lives, so I decided to join Young Farmers.

 

It was through the club and entering various competitions that I started taking part in the intermediate Brains Trust competition at club, county and then national level.

 

This is where my interest in agriculture really took a hold, so I applied to the Royal Agricultural University for a place on the international business management, food and agribusiness course.

 

Joining a YFC also led me to the stage, performing in various drama competitions. Doing this gave me confidence and spurred me on to join a band, Democratus.

 

Without the experience performing in front of the public, I do not think I would have achieved a lifelong dream of mine in 2018 to play at Bloodstock Open Air, an annual music festival.

 

I am now in my final year of YFC, and having just won Gwent’s senior member of the year, I am looking forward to representing my county.


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Education: I loved my time at university, learning a huge amount about how the agribusiness industry works, how the global supply affects the domestic market, and looking into emerging trends in diet and lifestyle.

 

This is an incredibly useful tool for anyone going into agriculture as it means they can look at the trends both short- and long-term, and make informed business decisions based on what the consumer wants.

 

As part of my course I carried out a six-month work placement, so with the help of the university I diversified the family farm.

 

I set up a holiday let, with the idea being to create a sustainable business for my parents. Last year it won a Sykes Gem Award for best holiday let in South and Mid Wales.

 

Work: Since leaving university, I have worked as an agriculture AI sales rep, a dairy herdsman and a relief milker.

 

Earlier this year, however, I made the decision to come back to the family farm. I help manage our suckler herd but I also have my own small herd of pedigree Herefords, as well as working for our potato wholesale business which supplies fish and chip shops in our local area.

 

We have already seen a number of challenges this year, most notably due to the recent bad weather which has affected the quality of the potato crop.

 

It has resulted in a price increase and I feel the public could be better informed as to the reasons why.

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