RAISING THE profile of the Scottish Association of Young Farmer’s and getting it back to its thriving position, are some of the key ambitions of new chairman, Kim Taylor, who takes over the reins from outgoing chair David Lawrie.

The Turriff born Young Farmer, who works as an architect in Montrose, tied the knot with her auctioneer fiancée at the beginning of June and now has big plans to focus on the society over the next year, taking forward its new strategic plan.

Kim shared with the Scottish Farmer her hopes and plans for the society but began by sharing a little about her background in farming and what she has gained from being an active member of the YF’s.

“My parents run a mixed farm outside Turriff where they grow spring and winter barley which we send for malting and the rest for our cattle. They also look after 100 store cattle and finish around 600 lambs. Growing up I did a lot of lambing – that was my Easter holidays, but never went on to work on the farm as it was small, and my dad did all the work himself.

“I started going along to YF’s when I was 14, as there were a lot of farmers at my school -Turriff academy - and it was something we all just fell in to. I’ve now been a member of Turriff YFC for 16 years and in that time I held the position of treasurer and was chair about seven years ago.

“I wasn’t too involved with the sports side of YF’s, but I took part in stock judging and the rallies are always a huge event - we did lots of baking and handicrafts.”

Kim was well-known for her sewing skills and won the ‘Catwalk Couture’ award three years in a row, showcasing her farm designs such as designing a boiler suit. Despite her skills, she did make the point that she has not been involved with making her own wedding dress.

“I went to university in Aberdeen so I could keep up my commitment to YF’s and be close to home,” Kim continued. “It has taken seven years to get my degree but luckily it has been okay balancing my work with YF’s as it is fairly flexible – it must be a lot harder for professions such as nursing, where you are working all hours round the clock.”

Four years ago, Kim was voted on to the national council as vice-chair for the north region of YF’s and has worked her way up from there, having spent the last year working closely with David Lawrie to put together a plan for the future of the society:

“The last year has been a real learning curve working alongside David, who had really good ideas about where he wanted the organisation to go, pulling it back on track in terms of membership and engagement.

“I hope to continue his work but also turn my attention to creating a new strategic plan for the society as we have discovered that the five-year model we are currently using becomes outdated too quickly, with all the constant changes like social media and ever evolving technology. Our main aim will be to engage more with the young farmer’s in the community and encourage them to become committed and increase attendance – we want to bring it back to the basics. The whole committee will have a job to do, but it’s all very exciting as it will all be part of driving membership and engagement, which is ultimately our role.”

Kim explained that the committee has outlined three main areas which will become the focus of the strategic plan and guide the actions of the society over the next year. Firstly, engagement, as already highlighted, and she emphasised an increased focus on social media and becoming more interactive with video content etc. Secondly, they will look to effectively safeguard the organisation for its members through ensuring good management and governance – making sure it continues to represent and support members. Finally, they will look at developing young people in rural Scotland and she explained that this will focusing on improving access to personal, professional and leadership development for their members.

Looking to the year ahead, Kim says that she is honoured to be leading the society forward and is excited to take part in a new challenge.

“It’s a real privilege to be on council, especially when you think that there are 3500 members in SAYFC and for me personally, I still see myself as a regular member so I’m totally honoured to be chairman – it’s something else.

“The next year will all focus around the strategic plan but aside from that we have just signed up to compete in the Great Glen Challenge which we haven’t done for years and I am so looking forward to it. We hope this will be another opportunity to raise the profile of SAYFC and also give back to RSABI who are an amazing charity and have also been huge supporters of us at events over the years.

“We have the Royal Highland Show in a month’s time which is the only time of the year where all of the YF’s come together and we want to make sure we can really captivate them and get our messages across. The show is a fantastic shop window for us and is always a huge boost getting our name out there in the wider agricultural community.

“We have already been doing a lot to raise our profile and want to continue to do so. Our Agri Affairs committee were recently invited to Westminster, which was a fantastic honour for the society and gave us brilliant access to policy makers and increased our influence as an organisation. We want to keep this up and let people know all the good things we do as sometimes YF’s can get a bad rep.

“We need to shout louder about our charity fundraising efforts. In the North and West, we managed to raised an incredible £19,000 and £31,000 respectfully, for a number of local charities over the last year and we want to build on this amazing work moving forward.”

Rounding off, Kim stressed that the farming industry is becoming an increasingly lonely and often isolating profession as farmers are working long hours on their own and urged for people to seek the support and comfort of SAYFC.

“It is so important to have a sense of community and during all the negative headlines right now around Brexit and mental health in the sector, it is crucial that we provide light relief and an escape for people needing a break from the pressures of farming life. SAYFC is like a big family and we want to make sure people feel excited about joining and taking part in all the different fantastic opportunities we have to offer.”