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Young Farmers demonstrate commitment to sustainability during awareness week

Young Farmers demonstrate commitment to sustainability during awareness week

A new campaign to encourage farmers to recycle more of their waste is being championed by leading rural youth organisation the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (NFYFC) at the start of National Young Farmers’ Week 2023 (9-13 October 2023), sponsored by Tama.

YFC County Federations are being asked to partner with local recycling companies to set up a scheme that incentivises farmers to recycle more of their farm waste.

Since 2006, the Waste Management Regulations banned the burning or burying of farm waste – including plastic and cardboard. Farmers must now legally send their waste to recycling or a landfill site.

The aim of the scheme is for young farmers to offer to remove the waste from local farms and deliver to the recycling centre in return for a donation. Farmers can also deliver their own waste through the scheme to trigger the donation to the YFC.

The YFC Recycle Challenge has been inspired by a successful initiative between the Essex Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs and CSH Environmental – a recycling centre just outside Colchester. The partnership has resulted in more than 94 tonnes of waste being recycled from farms across Essex and has raised more than £12,000 for YFCs in the county during its first year.

Oliver Weavers, who started the scheme during his year as County Chair for Essex, said:

“The recycling scheme has been such a big success in our county, we wanted more Young Farmers’ Clubs to benefit from a similar arrangement. This has given our members new skills, made them more aware of the importance of recycling and most importantly engaged farmers in recycling their waste more often.

“Most farmers have a connection to YFC and are willing to give back to the organisation and this is a really simple way to do it. I am proud to have been involved in setting up this scheme with CSH Environmental and I look forward to seeing it roll out more widely across England and Wales.”

Inspired by the recycling scheme, the Essex Federation also produced re-useable plastic drinking cups for their county show this year, made using the recycled plastic they had delivered to CSH. This initiative significantly reduced the amount of single-use plastic needing to be cleared the morning after the show.

NFYFC has worked with Essex to develop a toolkit for YFCs to help them set up a similar scheme in their own county, to encourage more farmers across England and Wales to recycle more.

The scheme is supported by National Young Farmers’ Week sponsors Tama. Representatives from Tama met with Essex Young Farmers to learn more about the scheme and were impressed with the operation, as the company is focused on encouraging recycling of its bale wrap.

Ewald Weschmann, Tama’s European Environmental Manager, said:

“Collection, recycling and taking responsibility for our products is quite complex. A lot of this plastic is being sorted to have a second life, which is fantastic. The scheme in Essex is a good step forward. For Tama, as a producer, it would be great if all over the country young farmers could work together in a scheme.

“Tama is proud to be supporting National Young Farmers’ Week, celebrating a decade of involvement backing projects with the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs that support rural young people. We all need to work together to ensure a sustainable future for our industry and rural communities and this scheme is a great example of simple ways we can make that happen.”

The recycling scheme is one part of NFYFC’s National Young Farmers’ Week activities, which this year has a theme of Sustainable Futures. The organisation has also released a report focused on sharing positive ways young farmers can overcome barriers to entry and how they can manage environmental challenges.

The report is in direct response to NFYFC’s Route to Success survey that was released earlier this year that showed more than 70% of respondents thought it would be difficult or impossible for new entrants to enter the industry.

The Sustainable Futures report provides counter arguments to the survey findings, sharing positive examples of ways young farmers can progress their careers – as well as suggesting how the industry needs to change to meet their needs.

Insights include those from George Dunn, Chief Executive of the Tenant Farmers’ Association (TFA) and Cameron Hughes, Land Use Policy Advisor at the CLA, as well as pieces from Oxbury Bank, Harper Adams University and the National Parks, to name a few.

The full report is available to download here.

All YFCs have also been encouraged to make donations to their local food bank on the week’s community day. YFCs are at the heart of their rural communities and the nationwide YFC Food Drop highlights the support clubs give.

Kaleb Cooper, the farming contractor who shot to fame on Prime Video’s hit series, Clarkson’s Farm, also kicks off the week with an announcement about which video has won NFYFC’s EIEIO Challenge. The competition, which was launched earlier in the year, asked YFCs to record a Reel or TikTok that showed their connection to British food, farming and the countryside.

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