Calling on the next rural generation

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The Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs (SAYFC) has marked the start of its 75th anniversary year with a call for the next generation of rural leaders to have a bigger say in shaping the future of both the farming and the food industry.

Before the official commencement of the year-long programme of events, SAYFC’s chief executive, Penny Montgomerie, said that a recent poll within the 3,000 strong membership identified that young people didn’t feel they had the skills or opportunities to influence the future.

As a result, the association will be launching a new plan to support personal development and networking opportunities. From that, it hopes the next generation will move into the spotlight when it comes to matters affecting rural communities.

By providing core skills training combined with networking opportunities, Montgomerie said the association aimed at making members become active citizens motivated to make a difference.

Among the initiatives being considered is a study tour to the European Union headquarters in Brussels to educate members on the wider political picture and how outcomes are influenced.

At home, the plan includes visits to businesses up and down the supply chain so members gain an further insight into customer and consumer demands.

There would also be a farm management programme designed to train members in business planning and budgeting.

“Our members are clearly passionate about Scotland’s rural industries,” she said. “The role of the SAYFC is to support this talent and harness the skills and enthusiasm to ensure the next generation is best placed to take the reins.”

She added that the association was looking for young people with an interest in rural Scotland to join so they could benefit from the excellent training and networking opportunities available.

“By developing leadership skills in a supportive environment, as well and making the right connections, we can support emerging Scottish talent,” Montgomerie said.

One recent recruit to SAYFC, Lynne Macarthur, who was born and grew up on the family farm in Newton of Mudgate, Cawdor, Nairn praised association’s results. She said: “Some clubs have been successful in stopping community hall closures, while others have raised significant funds to build new ones. It is knowing what’s possible and then having a common goal which makes the difference.”