The Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster (YFCU) Annual General Meeting and Conference 2023, held from 14th to 16th April at La Mon Hotel and Country Club, was a massive success. Proudly sponsored by Massey Ferguson, one of the world's leading tractor brands, the conference brought together members from across the organisation to celebrate their shared commitment to its goals and values.
Kickstarting YFCU AGM weekend of 2023, Friday night saw the VIP President’s Dinner, where YFCU members, staff and special guests, Rosie Bennett and Ed Dungait from National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs, and Lucy Mitchell and Katie Burns of Scottish Association Young Farmers’ Clubs, along with Niall Evans, Chair of Rural Youth Europe and came together to celebrate the tenure of Peter Alexander and all his achievements. Celebrations continued into the night with a fancy dress disco, where people dressed up as something beginning with their first initial. The atmosphere was electric as young farmers danced the night away and caught up with friends old and new.
Saturday’s proceedings began with a treasure hunt, encouraging members to work together to claim the top spot. Prizes were kindly provided by event sponsors Massey Ferguson. YFCU were thrilled to invite their five Club of the Year finalists; Ballywalter YFC, Cappagh YFC, Collone YFC, Curragh YFC and Randalstown YFC to battle it out in a quiz, with Collone YFC claiming the title of Club of the Year 2023 for the second year in a row.
The AGM and conference was officially opened by YFCU President, Peter Alexander. Following this, Peter took to the stage to give an overview of his two years as President of the Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster. A speech was then given by Sean McAvoy, Massey Ferguson.
YFCU Honorary Treasurer, Bob Esler, presented the financial report for the year, mentioning that clubs are slowly regaining their pre-covid membership levels with an increase in numbers from last year. He concluded by highlighting the importance of a combined approach from county level, mentors, HQ all working together to support clubs and members to increase participation over the coming year.
Niall Evans, Chair of Rural Youth Europe, Lucy Mitchell, National Chair of Scottish Association of Young Farmers’ Clubs and Rosie Bennett, Chair of National Federation of Young Farmers Clubs, all addressed the attendees of the AGM. Each offered their congratulations to Peter for his outstanding tenure as president, and wished the best of luck to the new presidential team as they assume their responsibilities.
Once voting had closed, the incoming presidential team for the 23/24 year was announced.
Stuart Mills, Moneymore YFC was titled as President of the Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster, announcing his theme of TEAM YFCU which stand for “Together, Everyone, Achieves More”, and his chosen charity as the Northern Ireland’s Children’s Hospice. Following this Richard Beattie, Finvoy YFC was elected into the Deputy President role, accepting with a positive and encourage speech.
The new YFCU President, Stuart Mills, highlighted, ‘I would like to firstly thank you for electing me as President of the Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster. I am honoured and humbled by your support and the opportunity for me to represent over 3,500 members of our prestigious Association.’
The four positions of Vice President went to re-elected member Shannen Vance, Trillick & District YFC, with Kristina Fleming, Ballywalter YFC, Rachel Smith, Moycraig YFC and Matthew Livingstone, Collone YFC taking on the role for the first time. Adam Alexander and Lynne Montgomery were thanked for their service as Vice Presidents and their significant contribution to the organisation, as they stepped down from their official roles.
As the AGM closed, the President and Deputy President commenced their new duties, as Richard Beattie began the prize giving ceremony, announcing the outstanding achievements of YFCU members from the preceding year; a highly anticipated part of the YFCU AGM which recognises the efforts, hard work, and commitment of members and clubs.
Member of the Year awards proudly sponsored by United Feeds were presented by Alan Boyd, United Feeds, Ruminant Nutrition Team Leader.
Alan said ‘United Feeds’ are delighted to continue their support of the YFCU and in particular the Member of the Year and Top Official competitions. The winners of these competitions showcase the many important life skills that are developed through membership of the YFCU.’
Junior Member of the Year was awarded to Lucy Morton, Bleary YFC, while Rachel Smith, Moycraig YFC was titled Senior Member of the Year.
Amy Bennington, Power NI, Marketing Manager presented the Ann Cameron Cup awarded for Club of the Year, collected by Karen Walker and Harry Chambers, members of Collone YFC.
Amy said “Congratulations to 2023 Club of the Year, Collone YFC, worthy winners of this award. We’re really proud to have supported YFCU, not just for the last decade as Club of the Year sponsor, but also as a Platinum Sponsor and Sustainability Partner for the organisation.”
The Ulster Young Farmer competition sponsored by Danske Bank is one of the Associations most prestigious awards within the agri seector. Jack Johnston, Randalstown YFC, took home 1st place overall and the McCausland Trophy. In the under 21 category 1st place and Golden Plough Trophy went to Jamie Bell, Gleno Valley YFC. Finally, 1st place in the Junior Ulster Young Farmer competition and winning the Robin Swan Trophy was Grace George, Collone YFC.
Following the prize giving ceremony, members attended committee meetings where Chair and Vice Chair positions were elected.
Kaitlyn Martin, Ballywalter YFC was elected as Chair and Laura Patterson, Holestone YFC as Vice Chair of the Programming and Development Committee. Ian Walker, Collone YFC was elected as Chair and Mitchell Park, Glarryford YFC as Vice Chair of the Agriculture, Environmental and Rural Affairs Committee.
Once all official proceedings had drawn to a close, it was time for the members to celebrate their achievements and enjoy a night of dinner and dancing, concluding the AGM and Conference 2023.
Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster would like to take this opportunity to thank their principal sponsor, Massey Ferguson for their sponsorship and support for the 2023 AGM and Conference.