National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

12 March 2018

Young farmers from across Europe visited the UK in March to discuss the impact of potential trade and policy changes post-Brexit at a seminar organised by The National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (NFYFC) and the NFU Next Generation Forum.

The two-day event, supported by Massey Ferguson and the Crop Protection Association involved members of the European Council of Young Farmers (CEJA) debating and establishing the next generation’s position on Brexit.

A special seminar called Brexit and Beyond gave YFC members the opportunity to discuss issues and concerns with young farmers from across Europe. The UK’s decision to leave the EU will have a major impact on young farmers and the session highlighted that 79% of those in attendance thought that free and frictionless trade is ‘very important’ to the future of the UK-EU agri-food sector.

In an opening address from Tom Keen, NFU’s EU Exit and International Trade Adviser, he outlined that the NFU’s objective was simply to encourage competitive, profitable and progressive farm businesses that are central to a dynamic UK food chain.

Andrew Clark, NFU’s Director of Policy told the packed room that they needed to speak with ‘one clear voice’ to government and forge strong relationships. He stated: “we may be politically walking away from the EU but we are not physically.”

Topics discussed in working groups focused on trading, the environment, productivity and risk management.

NFYFC Chairman Lynsey Martin said: “It was interesting to see that we have got pretty much the same set of worries, concerns and hopes surrounding Brexit. It’s great to talk to other European young farmers and see that we are all hoping that we will be trading in as free and frictionless way as possible. We’re still working towards the same goals in terms of the environment and agriculture in general.

“I’m so proud that NFYFC members were involved in the seminar and working alongside the NFU and CEJA to make sure we’re getting our voices heard in Europe. We want to all move forward together and hopefully have some influence and input into discussions surrounding Brexit.”

The main areas of concern raised by young farmers at the seminar were around a lack of stability and the impact on trading.

President of CEJA Jannes Maes said: “The main worry that our young farmers have is the lack of stability. Farming is a long-term commitment and the lack of stability or the risk of losing stability is the biggest fear. We want the change to the new situation to be as smooth as possible and for trade relations to be as smooth as we can have them.”

Supporters of the seminar Massey Ferguson also attended the session to hear the views of young farmers.

Campbell Scott, Massey Ferguson, Director Marketing Services and PR, Europe and Middle East said:  “We’re very confident that the European young farmers will rise to the challenges of the future and we think that coming to a session like this will bring some good ideas as to how this incredibly important subject of Brexit should be tackled.”

CEJA is due to announce its position statement on Brexit very soon, following ratification from members of Macre Ne Feirme in Ireland as they were unable to make the seminar due to the bad weather.

NFYFC and the NFU Next Generation Forum are in discussions with CEJA about the potential to be associate members of the organisation when the UK leaves the EU. 


Emilia Astrenius Widerström, President of Swedish Young Farmers

“It has been beneficial because it is a big problem for every country in the EU to figure out how to resolve the future and how to get together and discuss solutions for the impact that this will have. It will have a big impact on us because we are big exporters to the UK so we have to figure out how to do business with them later on.”

Richard Bower, Chairman of the NFU Next Generation Forum

“As a young farmer – like most young farmers – you have to be positive and look for the opportunities as the industry is constantly changing and evolving. But we have to be aware of the current situation. People want to listen to what young farmers have to say and if we stand together and go to government together, go to our customers together, I think there is a massive opportunity out there for us.”
James Hutchinson, NFYFC’s AGRI Steering Group Chairman. Wiltshire FYFC

“Brexit is going to be a challenge for everyone, especially young farmers. But we feel that working together and making positive sensible comments to politicians that put forward young farmers’ views is the way we need to work."

David Goodwin, Vice Chair of AGRI, Warwickshire

“I think none of us really knows what will come out of it and we’re still a long way off knowing what the final deal will be. So I can’t say whether I’m positive or anxious about it yet. But we need to be looking for the opportunities and trying to move forward in own businesses and embrace what comes next. There’s no point in forcing our way against it because it is coming.”

Iris Bouwers, CEJA Vice President, Netherlands

“I’ve seen the data on what could happen to Dutch exports to the United Kingdom, and also the other way around. The Dutch economy is one of the ones that will be most affected in some scenarios, especially a hard Brexit.

I am worried but I also think we have a bright future in front of us. I believe that if we work together, that if we keep on talking when it comes to trade and workforces and the future CAP, we can create a beneficial situation for British young farmers and European young farmers. “

Luca Gaddoni – Policy Advisor, Coldiretti, Italy

“From our perspective, one of the biggest concerns about Brexit is about trade and the possibility that the UK could leave the single market and customs union. So it will be really important to prevent any possibility for the United Kingdom to become a platform for trading goods and products coming from third countries not respecting EU quality and production standards. The UK should be able to maintain the same standards as the EU."

George Lane, Young Farmer from Leicestershire

“As an agricultural business consultant working in East Anglia, a lot of my clients are very worried about how we go forward with trade deals and also what’s happening with subsidies. I think we need further clarification – at the moment it’s all very speculative, which could change from today or tomorrow. We just need to get on with it now and find out how can go forward so that we can plan for our business.”


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