Last Saturday morning I visited the famous Winter Gardens in Blackpool and although it was pouring when I came out, I was glad because the plants and crops desperately needed the drink. These same crops were on my mind when I attended the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (NFYFC) annual conference earlier in the week to discuss the WI's rural connection, its Great Milk Debates and Mission Milk, as well as the ways in which young people might champion British Farming. In the ensuing discussion, it was obvious that these particular young people were passionate about farming – their herds and flocks, crops and machinery – and if their enthusiasm is anything to go by, British farming should be secure, but I think we all know it is not as easy as that. However, there is plenty in the industry to get excited about: the technology and advances that have come with combine harvesters and tractors, and of course, the animals.
Today a young friend of the family is leaving for the USA where he will spend an exciting six months learning more about ploughing and the use of machinery in vast landscapes. Some of the young farmers at the convention have already done this and I know when ploughing and hedging competitions are held in my own area, they attract a lot of attention. British farming is a highly skilled profession to be proud of and cherished.
Although membership of Young Farmers ceases at the age of 26 (and may begin at the age of 10) the keenest can remain as an Associate member. This is somewhat different from the WI's Associate scheme – one way of becoming a WI member without the requirement to belong to a specific WI – please check out the details www.thewi.org.uk/associate for more details: it could be just the introduction to the WI a woman needs!