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YFC members to decide if subscriptions will rise: What does it really mean?

Every member must pay an annual levy to be a Young Farmer in England and Wales, but what is the money spent on and why will it be a key area during next Sunday’s (May 6) AGM?


In 2008, the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (NFYFC) was dealt one of the biggest financial blows in its history, following a Government decision to cease central funding.


The move prompted NFYFC towards greater self-sufficiency and relying less on funding and grants to ensure its survival, but in 2015, the organisation was hit again after the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme (SAWS) was closed by the Government in 2013, meaning NFYFC’s commercial trading arm HOPS could no longer donate more than £200,000 to the Federation.


As a result, the gross levy system, which has been in place for more than 30 years, has gradually played an increased role in NFYFC’s income, a decision which has been met with mixed response from members.


Traditionally, each increase is proposed at the annual general meeting (AGM), held as part of the YFC convention weekend, where members can vote for or against the motion.


This year, the NFYFC Council will purport an increase of £5 to the national subscription, so more investments can be made in services for YFC members.


The proposal will be made at next Sunday’s AGM (May 6), held at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens.

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Value for money


NFYFC’s Katie Hall says the increase is needed to safeguard the organisation’s future.


She says: “During the 2018 budget year, YFC members in England and Wales are receiving services from the NFYFC which cost £62.78/member to deliver.


“The gross levy payable by the whole of the NFYFC membership [as of August 31, 2017] is £369,757.73, which equates to £16.38 per YFC member being received by the NFYFC.


“With the £5/member increase, YFC members would pay just £21.38 towards services which actually cost £62.78 in total for each member. It still offers members very good value for money.”


Funds are needed to facilitate core areas of NFYFC, such as competitions, training and developing and agriculture and rural issues (see graphic).


Most of NFYFC’s running costs are sourced outside of the levy, which only covers 26 per cent of overall costs. Translated, this means each member currently contributes 43 per cent of the total cost of being a YFC member.


The deficit is made-up of additional services, coming from other income streams, such as grants and sponsorship, HOPS Labour Solution, convention profits and returns from the organisation’s investment portfolio.


But Katie says without a levy increase, the budget will be hit with a significant deficit of £175,965, which is 12 per cent less than its budgeted expenditure.


“A £5 increase to the levy will bring an additional income of £112,800 to the organisation, securing a gross levy of £482,600; funds which are vital if the NFYFC is to continue to deliver services to YFC members, clubs and federations.


“One of the big developments which is proposed is to introduce an online centralised membership system, allowing members to join and pay for their NFYFC membership through the website.


“It would remove membership administration away from county offices, giving staff employed by county federations significantly more time to support YFC Clubs.


“As well as costs to establish this system, NFYFC will need a member of staff to manage this central service. This will effectively move the staff time from county federations to the YFC centre.


“Another member of staff is required at the YFC centre to support the enormous increase in demand for help from county federations, especially where a county federation has part-time staff due to reduced local funding and limited budget availability.

Source: Farmers Guardian and NFYFC
Source: Farmers Guardian and NFYFC

County offices


Additional work at the YFC centre comes from a significant decrease in the number of hours per week county federations employ staff.


Until the 1990s, almost every county federation had two staff in the form of a county organiser and a secretary, employed and paid for by the local authority and often with an office in the county hall or other local authority office.


But as time has evolved and bar about three exceptions, county federations have found it increasingly difficult to establish income streams to allow them to replace this staff model.


Katie says: “Generally, admin costs have increased and everyone now must have monthly contracts for internet, updated IT equipment and printers.


“The digital age is a great thing for organisations and has made communications immediate, but for county federation budgets, it is tough to keep up. Technology moves so fast and constant upgrades are required and need to be paid for.”


Results of a survey conducted in 2004 record 2,280 employed hours per week across all county federations compared to 1,901 hours this year. The problem is further exacerbated by local authorities which have completely cut local youth services because of budget constraints. YFC county federations now seek this support from the NFYFC.


Katie says: “This means the YFC centre is now carrying out tasks which have, until now, always been done more locally, including helping with paperwork, managing safeguarding disclosures, such as template letters, liaison with external authorities and assisting with planning of county competition rounds and county training events.”


Next Sunday’s AGM (May 6) will see whether the motion is passed and relies on votes from members to determine the organisation’s future.

Organisation Annual subscription Additional payments
The Pony Club £74 Entry fees for competitions and events
Scouts £27 headquarters fee plus district fees and local subs and fees paid weekly or monthly or each term

Plus activity costs

Girlguiding Varies between areas
St John’s Ambulance £72
Contributions for specific events (usually the residential element of an event) or event tickets which are purchased for fundraising events; an insurance premium of £5.35/member is also payable, but not taken as income


Look for us at the AGM

The Farmers Guardian team will be out in force during the Young Farmers annual convention weekend. Reporting live from the three-day event, which centres around Blackpool’s Winter Gardens, we will be covering every aspect on our website, and our social media platforms.

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