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NFYFC announces industry stalwart John Lee OBE DL as President

NFYFC announces industry stalwart John Lee OBE DL as President

NFYFC has elected John Lee OBE DL as its new President at the Annual General Meeting on 21 April 2024.

John has been involved with Young Farmers’ Clubs since he was 16 years old, starting out as a member of Newton St Cyres YFC in Devon. He progressed through the organisation in club and county roles before chairing the Agriculture and Finance committees of NFYFC before becoming Chair of NFYFC’s Council.

Message from NFYFC President John Lee OBE DL

“What an honour to be elected as the new President of NFYFC. A lot has changed since I was NFYFC’s Chair of Council – for me and for the organisation. However, the principle remains the same – get stuck in, have fun and take responsibility.

I grew up on the family’s beef, sheep and cereals farm in Devon and I was 16 years old when my parents encouraged me to join Newton St Cyres YFC. I didn’t know anything about the organisation and was reluctant to get involved at first. I am forever grateful that I did join – ultimately everything I have done links back to YFC.

While some things have changed since I was a member, it’s good core elements, such as the competitions programme, are still going strong.

As a member I enjoyed the Public Speaking competitions – with Brainstrust and Debating favourites that have had such an influence on my life.

I can remember the time competing as Chair in the Brainstrust team when the trainer took my notes away as I was going on stage saying: ‘you won’t need those,’ which was rather scary! But it’s those experiences that gave me confidence.

There are so many occasions in YFC and in later life where you must stand up and make a speech. These are brilliant skills to develop that YFC members sometimes take for granted.

Progression in YFC

After roles in my club, county and at area levels, I went on to be NFYFC’s Chair of Council. Later it was Lord Henry Plumb, a former President of NFYFC and the European Parliament that encouraged and mentored me to get involved in European agri-politics. It was there I was elected as the first (and only) President of the European Council of Young Farmers (CEJA) from England and Wales.

I have also been Chairman of the European Exchange Programme on behalf of the European Commission and a member of the Common Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee too. This is in addition to many roles in the South West and nationally, including Chair of the Rural Youth Trust, former chair and now Trustee of The Farmers Club and an NFYFC Trustee.

When I received the call from the NFYFC officers inviting me to be President, I was shocked and extremely surprised. It’s such an honour to be the figurehead of such an amazing organisation that has helped shape and influence my own personal and professional life.

This is the only organisation I have been involved in where the power comes upwards – it is the Young Farmers’ Clubs that are the foundation of the organisation and that is the great strength of YFC – it is an organisation that develops people’s skills or gives them opportunities to develop them, and I am looking forward to helping champion that as well as supporting our NFYFC officers.”


Watch an interview with NFYFC President John Lee OBE DL as he talks about his background in YFC and the competition he dislikes the most!