National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

Supporting the farmers of the future 

Ian Burrow, head of agriculture at NatWest and the Royal Bank of Scotland, looks ahead to National Young Farmers’ Week and explains why the bank is proud to sponsor this annual event.  

Farmers have long known to expect the unexpected. Contending with the vagaries of Mother Nature, the volatility of commodity prices, and the threat of disease to their stock, crops and livelihood, they have been ‘agile’ in their working practices for a lot longer than it has been a business buzzword.

But the challenges (and in some cases, opportunities) faced by the young farmers of today are unprecedented. They reflect a spectrum of political, social, environmental and technological transformation that is taking place all over the world, and none of us in the agricultural sector has seen anything quite like it before.

We know, of course, that there will be bumps in the road ahead, but there will also be exciting new opportunities, and farmers will need to draw on their famous resilience and ingenuity to weather the changes and explore new avenues. Every time I interact and work with Young Farmers, they never cease to amaze me with their innovation, determination and adaptability in the face of any challenging issue. They are nothing if not resourceful.

That’s why NatWest is proud to sponsor National Young Farmers’ Week (30 September to 4 October), an eagerly anticipated annual event run by the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (NFYFC). Throughout 300 years of collaboration with the arable, dairy, livestock, forestry, fishing and fruit industries, we have learned that farming is more than just a job – it’s a passion, a vocation, that requires sensitive support from a bank that understands the sector’s needs.

Help at hand

Diversification, legislation, sustainability and food security are just some of the is-sues facing the agricultural community in 2019. And all these are set against a backdrop of uncertainty in the UK as the Brexit process plays out so dramatically.

Given the extent of the factors impacting their industry, young farmers today must develop a skill set as long as your arm. From telematics in their tractor cabs and data in their dairies to the economics of running a farm shop or marketing a glamping business, they have to be able to turn their hands to anything.

And then there are the issues closer to home – succession and family dynamics, the risk of mental illness and social isolation, and the financial pressures of running your own business.

But support is out there, in the network of 598 Young Farmers’ Clubs around the country that offer opportunities to develop agricultural skills, seek business advice, forge community links, and make new friends. As well as highlighting pressing concerns that affect young people in the countryside, the NFYFC also offers members the chance to have some much-needed fun, travelling abroad together or hosting a farmer on an exchange programme from the other side of the world.

NatWest recognises the importance of supporting these young and fledgling farmers as they take their place on the farms of the future. Alongside our accelerator hubs and support services for start-ups we provide financial products that can help grow a business, sustainably.

Our research shows that over half of young farmers have plans to expand their operations in new ways. As farmers flex their entrepreneurial muscle in diversified directions, we will be their business partners along the way, mitigating the barriers and obstacles they face, and helping to future-proof their businesses through the changing times to come. 

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