"Agriculture is sometimes seen by the general public as a sector which is never happy, always wants more money, and appears to be subsidised to the hilt through their taxes.
"Some of that may be true, and it is a perception of the sector. But, there is a side to the industry which few people talk about – and that is its involvement in charity.
"The National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs’ (NFYFC’s) AGM in Blackpool last weekend is a case in point.
"Members from across the UK arrived at the AGM saddle- and foot-sore after cycling or walking for miles to get there, raising huge sums of money in the process.
"Other clubs have raised money throughout the year – and all for a huge variety of causes.
"It would surprise the general public if they were to realise YFC members, whom they can sometimes regard as hard-drinking party animals, were responsible for raising so much for charity.
"The NFYFC’s extrapolation that if all 48 county federations returned the details of their fundraising it would amount to more than £1.2 million is a huge positive message.
"Add in the money raised by the Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs and Young Farmers Clubs of Ulster and it would be even higher. How many other youth organisations could claim to raise so much?
"On a wider platform, the agriculture industry is hugely generous, whether it is farmers themselves, those who work in the industry or the supply chain. But it is something which goes on often without fanfare or recognition.
"It would be interesting to calculate just how much the farming sector contributes to charity each year – and it would be a positive story for an industry which sometimes suffers from an often unjustified reputation of being focused entirely on money, cost and profit (or, more usually, lack of it).
"Farming, as those who are involved in it realise, is an outstanding sector for helping those who have hit hard times. There are few industries with such a big heart, and such a drive to help others. It is something we should be unafraid to talk about and be hugely proud to be part of."
- Emma Penny
13 May, 2016