NFU Mutual has reaffirmed its support partnership with Young Farmers Club Ulster (YFCU) to help young farmers develop the skills they need to become tomorrow’s agricultural leaders.
A major supporter of Northern Ireland’s Young Farmers’ clubs for over 30 years, the leading rural insurer has confirmed funding for the organisation’s drama and education programme as a Platinum level sponsor through the NFU Mutual Charitable Trust. NFU Mutual also supports the YFCU’s work promoting farm safety and mental health through its Yellow Wellies charity.
Martin Malone, NFU Mutual Northern Ireland Manager said: “We’ve been one of the YFCU’s main sponsors for over 30 years and are delighted to confirm our continued support.
“We recently met YFCU leaders and were hugely impressed by their future plans for the young farmers movement in Northern Ireland. Driven by the vision of President Stuart Mills, fellow officers and staff, YFCU have an impressive range of activities which will help members gain skills and confidence in public speaking which will enable them to step up to become tomorrow’s agricultural leaders.
“Agriculture is becoming a hugely challenging industry and future farmers need excellent communication and debating skills to promote and defend farming and rural life.
“I’ve listened to many of the public speaking competitions and have been hugely impressed by the high standards of debate that the YFCU’s programme fosters.
“As anyone connected with farming knows, farm accidents continue to take a heart-breaking toll on farming families. We run an extensive safety education programme for young farmers through the Farm Safety Foundation’s ‘Yellow Wellies’ campaign.
“Delivered by ambassadors from young farmers’ clubs across Northern Ireland, the scheme provides a vital framework to help young farmers stay safe while working with machinery, livestock and farm hazards such as slurry gas.
“The Yellow Wellies programme also encompasses mental health through the “Mind Your Head” initiative. This helps young farmers cope with the stresses of modern farming
life —particularly working alone— and the huge pressure farmers can come under keeping their businesses going in a very difficult economic climate.”
Stuart Mills, YFCU President and a member of Moneymore YFC for 22 years said: “NFU Mutual’s support for YFCU is invaluable and has enabled us to develop a fantastic public speaking and drama programme for the benefit of our members.
“It’s a programme designed to develop and showcase life skills including public speaking, debating and team work.
“This year’s public debating competition is about to begin and I’m looking forward to welcoming Martin and his team from ‘The Mutual’ along, to hear how well our members are developing their presenting skills.
”As someone who was very nervous about speaking in public as a teenager, I can attest to the value of taking part – it certainly helped me to gain confidence and get over the points I wanted to make.”
Stuart has adopted TEAM YFCU - which stands for ‘Together, Everyone, Achieves More’ - as the theme for his presidency.
“It’s about fellow members encouraging each other to take the first steps in an activity outside their comfort zone. Each young farmers’ club is like a wider family with a great support network. My YFCU experience has taught me practical life skills and sparked my passion for charity work. And, above all, being in young farmers is about having fun and giving something new a go. Everyone should try something new at least once!
“I want to see more of our members develop their personal resilience and leadership skills to equip them to tackle challenges such as the pressure of social media, rising living costs, and the difficulty of early home ownership.
“The agri-food industry is facing a range of new environmental priorities and targets that must be met. These issues are of crucial importance and will affect all of us. As young individuals familiar with rural and farming families’ challenges, it’s crucial to have our voices heard.”
Stuart believes the debating skills fostered by the programme also help young people promote agriculture via social media channels.
“Social media is incredibly valuable as a tool to promote the work farmers do, and well-produced videos and podcasts about our work and dealing with the issues of the day have a major role to play forming public opinion.
Stuart and his wife, Sarah, live on a lowland farm near Moneymore. As well as running the farm he works as a project manager for a mechanical and electrical contractor.