By Katie Burns

"IT is hard to believe it has been over a year since we were first put into lockdown and what a year it has been!

For a membership organisation built on regular meetings, social interactions and competitions, adjusting to lockdown was no easy task. So to see many clubs adapting to keeping their members engaged has been inspiring, and I must take this opportunity to commend the office bearers and committee members.

On what has been a year like no other the determination and drive that they have shown has been amazing. All clubs quickly adapted, whether it be changing competitions to suit, helping their communities in a crisis, supporting their members throughout a very isolating time or helping many wonderful charities, all of which have really improved the perception of Young Farmers!

Working alongside Gemma Bruce the past year has been a great experience – we never quite managed to have many events, however it gave us the opportunity to take time to explore our members’ expectations and how we could improve their experience.

Taking on National vice chair is Lucy Mitchell, West Fife JAC, who I am looking forward to working with over the next year.

In the summer we asked members past, present and future to participate in a member consultation to gauge insight into what they wanted to see from SAYFC. We also took a look at the overall structure of the organisation and how it could be improved.

This week past we have held the AGMs for the new committees which will replace National Council.

These committees have already been working together for the past four months using the collated information from the consultation. This feedback has led to the introduction of a newly developed Leadership Programme, member-led farm safety training, a new mentoring program, a Covid Development Fund alongside many more great things to come, and I look forward to sharing these with you.

As National Chairman of SAYFC for the next year, I would like all members to have these five key objectives in mind:

  • Vision;
  • Modelling the way;
  • Enabling people to act;
  • Challenging the process;
  • And having FUN!!

We as a member-led organisation need to have the future vision for SAYFC at the forefront of our decision making and it is vital that we look at it's current position and to what it will look like next year and beyond. It is essential that we encourage members to be a strong voice within SAYFC to secure a successful future.

Working collaboratively will help understand what needs to be done and by offering personal development opportunities, encouraging feedback and motivating members to be involved in decision-making processes should keep us on track to achieving the vision, with the social aspect of the association a key element throughout.

Considering the key objectives my visions for the year ahead include:

  • Membership – I want to stop the decline and increase our membership numbers back up to what they were pre-Covid and make SAYFC a more inclusive organisation;
  • Belonging – Young Farmers has always been seen as a second family for so many people, I want to continue that and encourage members to take full advantage of all the great opportunities offered. Encouraging contribution and communication through all levels of SAYFC;
  • Community – Over the past year especially, many clubs have helped out their communities, I want Young Farmers Clubs to be seen as an important part of their local community;
  • Finance – I want to increase financial support to clubs and increase income, finding new sources to help achieve these visions, while encouraging clubs to assess their own finance and remember that charity starts at home.

Now I know this is a big plan for what is going to be a difficult year of recovery, I want SAYFC to be a stronger organisation post-Covid. I know this is going to be a challenge but it also brings opportunity for growth.

With recent announcements from the government and youth link Scotland, I am excited to say we’ve even got a couple of dates in the diary. As summer is approaching we are looking forward to getting the rallies back up and running, even introducing a west rally. East and west rallies will both be on July 10, with Highland July 17, and Grampian the same weekend date TBC.

This will all lead up to our new National Young Farmers Day ‘SAYFC Super Saturday’ on July 24 at Ingliston, where we will have the Tug of War and Handicrafts finals.

This years Agri and Rural Affairs conference will be held on December 3, at Ingliston, with a brand new Young Farmers Awards on the Saturday night in the New Members Pavilion.

I would not be in this position today if it wasn’t for the encouragement and support I have received throughout my time as a member and officer bearer. So a massive thank you must go to the members, staff and supporters of this amazing organisation."