The NFU Scotland website states that with more than 75 per cent of Scotland’s land mass under agricultural production, the industry sees around 65,000 people directly employed in farming.
That makes agriculture the third largest employer in rural Scotland after the service and public sectors. It is estimated that a further 250,000 jobs (one in 10 of all Scottish jobs) are dependent on agriculture.
Anyone working on our land will be sure to tell you that there is something very rewarding about working in the sector, whether it is seeing livestock born, taking animals to market, watching crop grow or selling your own produce direct to the consumer. However, many will also tell you that rural isolation can be a concern and this doesn’t just go for those working on the farm. The land in Scotland is very widely spread which brings with it small villages or single steadings that are sparsely populated.
This is something that the Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs (SAYFC) continuously works to reduce providing a dynamic and very accessible organisation that allows rural youth to break away from isolation. The array of personal development opportunities available allows members to gain new skills and experiences that they can use throughout their lives, contributing to the wider industry.
During last year’s 75th anniversary celebrations, the association was able to dedicate time to raise their profile. This along with a new regional events manager, Lynsey Paterson, some additional competitions and extra support from National Office in the form of a Communications and rural affairs manager have all contributed to increased membership numbers in the East.
This was reinforced at this year’s Royal Highland Show when the Border Federation took second place for district recruitment, and Teviotdale YFC was awarded first place for club recruitment. Additional to this the 2014 Club of the Year was dominated by the region with Forfar and District YFC taking first place and Strathearn JAC receiving runner-up.
The region, which covers from Duns up to Brechin to as far West as Auchterarder and Bathgate, now aims to welcome even more members into this large rural family that supports all interests and helps reduce rural isolation. The association is unique in that these clubs are run by the members empowering them to make their own decisions from what events and activities to run, to how they fundraise and who takes on the office bearer roles. There are also events/competitions organised at National and Regional level that clubs can choose to take part in allowing them plenty of interaction with members from throughout Scotland.
If you would like to find out more information about joining an existing club get in touch with Lynsey (see below) or visit www.sayfc.org. If you don’t think there is a club in your area, why not start one? Anyone can start a new club, you just need a group who are 14 to 30 years of ages and interested in joining this very special social network. You do not need to be a farmer or be from a farming background, and there is no requirement to take part in competitions and events – members can do as little or as much as they like.
For more information contact Lynsey Paterson on 0131 333 2445 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org