‘Deeply concerning’ halving in the membership of Young Farmers Club Wales
A halving in the membership of the Young Farmers Club Wales has been described as “deeply concerning” by a Senedd Member.
The bilingual organisation’s usual membership of over 4,000 has fallen to around 2,000 in the last year, which according to the Chair made them “worry about the future of the organisation”.
The impact of Covid-19 restrictions, which led to a cancelling of the Royal Welsh last year and a virtual event this year, and a lack of weekly events in local clubs, has been blamed for the steep fall.
Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Rural Affairs, Samuel Kurtz MS, said it highlighted the “devastating impact the pandemic has had on voluntary groups and organisations across Wales”.
“While some clubs and counties have been able to resume activities with members getting back to face-to-face events, it’s clear normality can’t come soon enough,” he said.
“As a former Young Farmer myself, still involved in the movement, I know the huge benefits it brings to young people in rural Wales.
“Therefore, it is vital that Ministers in Cardiff Bay ensure support is in place to help the many voluntary groups across the country like Welsh Young Farmers to not only survive but thrive.”
The Welsh YFC’s Chair Katie Davies told BBC Radio Cymru’s Dros Frecwast that it had been “a very difficult year”.
“Doing everything over Zoom and not face-to-face, that’s tough for our members, not to be able to see anyone,” she said.
“It’s a shock, and it does make us worry for the future of the organisation.
“But, at the same time, it isn’t a big shock because it’s been such a different year, and not everyone wants to do something over Zoom.”
However, she said that she was hopeful that members would rejoin in September.
“We are positive about the future of the YFC because counties are meeting and clubs are meeting face-to-face,” she said.
“With that we’re seeing more members coming back.
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Time for extensive land reform. We need many more young people in Welsh farming – with a stake they can own. Larger properties should be broken up – they are mostly farming subsidies and capital gains, with plenty of absentee owners.
The future is small farms – geared to local markets, respect for the environment, sustainable practices, restoration of hedgerows and other habitats, a rural/semi-rural lifestyle to benefit families, support for schools and community facilities – shops and post offices…
That news reads like a casualty list and a sobering and stark measure of the state of things in Wales today. A bit of hope you can eat is in order from Y Senedd. And beyond…
The question how do we imagine a Wales for the future needs to be addressed by all branches of the Senedd and all walks of life.
Mr Anderson speaks for me…bring out those 1970’s self-sufficiency books…