Rebecca Evans, Deputy Minister for Farming and Food
Wales YFC is the largest rural youth organisation in Wales. It has some 6,000 members operating through 12 County Federations and 155 local clubs.
Wales YFC recently received notification that its applications for funding to Natural Resources Wales and the National Voluntary Youth Organisations Fund had been unsuccessful. I would like to clarify that these were competitive processes and that Wales YFC was unsuccessful in its applications. This was not a case of budgets being cut as has been reported in some quarters.
Discussions between Wales YFC and officials from within my Department, alongside discussions that Wales YFC has had with its other key stakeholders, have determined that the organisation will require a new business model if it is to move forward successfully. In response to this challenge, Wales YFC will instigate an Enabling Change Programme. The programme will have the full support of my officials and will allow Wales YFC to build capacity and develop a sound 5-year business plan that gives a clear direction and identifies future means of income generation that will secure the organisation’s future. Part of the support provided by this government will be a grant to help the organisation put itself on a firm footing. We will continue to work with the YFC to review the progress of the Enabling Change Programme to ensure that the intervention measures are achieving the necessary outcomes for the organisation future sustainability.
Any successful industry requires renewal, fresh blood and fresh ideas, and the Welsh Government through various initiatives, including our hugely successful Young Entrant Support Scheme (YESS) and our Farming Connect Agri Academy, is determined to see young, talented and well qualified people coming through to head-up successful farm businesses and emerge as leaders within the wider agriculture industry. Our aspirations in this respect were reflected in recent reviews initiated by this government; Kevin Roberts’ Independent Review into Resilience of Farming in Wales and Malcolm Thomas’ Next Generation into Farming report, in particular.
Professor Wynne Jones recently published his Independent Review of Learning Delivered by Further Education Colleges and the Relevance of that Delivery in Supporting Farm Businesses in Wales. In his report, Professor Jones acknowledges the important work that Wales YFC plays in up-skilling its members and acknowledges the fact that the skills that are learned through membership of the YFC are of considerable benefit to individuals wishing to pursue careers within farming and beyond. It should be noted that not every member of Wales YFC will wish to follow a career in farming, but many will and that is why the organisation is so important to the Welsh Government.
Wales YFC has a key role working alongside the government and other key stakeholders to help develop the next generation into farming and this is why I believe that by financially supporting the organisation in the short term, we are supporting the long term viability and success of farming in Wales.