Several Young Farmers’ Clubs are seeking to sever ties with the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (NFYFC) in a move which could render another blow to the governing body.
Members of the Yorkshire Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs last week agreed to issue a vote of no confidence in NFYFC and to undertake a feasibility study looking at the costs and other implications of breaking away, as Cheshire has done.
Farmers Guardian understands a number of larger clubs are considering similar moves, which would see levies collected and competitions run at a county level, leaving NFYFC’s role heavily diminished.
A national festival to replace the annual convention, but run by the clubs rather than NFYFC, has been mooted.
Cheryl Williams, a member of Pontrilas YFC, Herefordshire, said about two-thirds of its 23 members joined for two reasons - to take part in competition at the rally and attend convention.
Ms Williams said: “Without convention to attend, can they justify joining? If our AGM is anything to go by, then no, they cannot.
“Combine losing convention with losing your junior members to college during the week, and you get five members attending your AGM. You cannot actually hold it.
“In making the decision to cancel convention we feel NFYFC’s Board of Management have failed to understand that whilst these ‘social’ members may not be of much use to NFYFC, they are massively important to clubs like ours.”
William Barker of Buckingham YFC reiterated the point, with claims several members – including himself – would not be renewing their NFYFC membership due to the loss of the event.
He said: “All of the county leaders are repeating the NFYFC party line of how it is time to move on from the AGM, but absolutely no YFC member I have spoken to since the decision has ever said they felt it was ‘time to move on’.
“Some counties have even threatened to remove memberships and prevent individuals from renewing if they are seen on the potential ‘unofficial AGM’.
“It is nothing short of an abuse of power.”
Others however backed the federation’s decision, suggesting the YFC movement was ‘about more than a weekend booze up’ and ‘the drinking extravaganza […] was distracting from the great work that YFC does’.
George Goodwin, chairman of NFYFC personal development steering group, added: “It is not the end of the world.
“If your horizon is three nights in Blackpool, broaden them.”
NFYFC chief officer James Eckley said: “Membership of YFC is much more than just one weekend as it gives young rural people skills for life, travel and networking opportunities as well as a social life in many remote locations.
“NFYFC is focused on creating a national programme of events and activities that appeals to rural young people aged 10 to 26 and that supports the great work done by YFCs at a local level.”