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YFs to take the reins

SOME DAY soon, this generation of Young Farmers will have to take the reins of Scottish agriculture – so its high time that they be given a greater say in the direction it is steered in now.

This is the Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs' 75th anniversary year – and chief executive Penny Montgomerie also wants it to be the year the YF movement engages with the industry's future.

Launching a new plan to support its members' development as industry leaders, the Association said it wants to place youth in the spotlight when it comes to matters affecting rural communities.

With over 3000 members including next generation farmers, food producers and young rural citizens, the SAYFC believes that by empowering young people to become more effective contributors, Scotland's rural youth will be better placed to take charge of its farms.

Mrs Montgomerie explained: "Our members are clearly passionate about Scotland's rural industries. The role of the SAYFC is to support this talent and harness the skills and enthusiasm to ensure the next generation is best placed to take the reins.

"In addition to stimulating existing members, we are looking for young people with an interest in rural Scotland and associated industries to join SAYFC and benefit from the excellent training and networking opportunities available.

"By developing leadership skills in a supportive environment, as well and making the right connections, we can support emerging Scottish talent."

A recent poll of SAYFC members identified three key issues on young peoples' minds – fuel prices, a scarcity of available farmland and the reluctance of banks to lend finance.

However, this research also identified that young people didn't feel they had the skills or opportunities to influence the future. Now the Association is hoping that by providing core skills training combined with networking opportunities, both on a local and national level, Scotland's young people will become a group of active citizens motivated to make a difference.

Initiatives include a study tour to Brussels to educate members on the wider political picture and how outcomes can be influenced, visits to businesses up and down the supply chain so members can gain a further insight into customer and consumer demands, and the development of a farm management programme designed to train members in business planning and budgeting.

Penny added: "There is already a lot of good being done at a grass roots level by SAYFC members. One of the objectives during our anniversary year is to promote what is already being achieved."

-Another big initiative planned by SAYFC is a 75th anniversary exhibition and concert, which will take place in November in Glasgow. Aiming to attract up to 7000 people, the Association will look to take the opportunity to reinforce the aims of the SAYFC and showcase success across Scotland.

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