Young farmers groups represent the lifeblood of the farming industry. Chris Berry talks to the region’s new chairman.
The first thing you notice about David Teasdale as he stands alongside the sprayer while taking a short break from his role as lead farm worker for Johnny Shaw at Welburn Manor Farms is that for a Young Farmer he doesn’t look particularly, well, young!
But this year he has taken on the biggest job in the Yorkshire Federation of Young Farmers Clubs. He’s the chairman and he is looking forward to the County Show at Bewerley Park in Pateley Bridge, which became the new name for the rally some years ago after its move from the Great Yorkshire Showground. David is not a young man in denial. He’s taken on the role because of the dearth of experienced people within the age range of the movement.
“I’m 30 and to be a Young Farmer you’re supposed to be between the ages of 10-26, but finding people within that range to take on officer roles at county level is hard. If you look at the statistics there are not that many seniors in the federation at the moment. It is quite shocking really.
“Nationally the membership of Young Farmers has grown in recent years but a lot of that has come at the junior end.
“The good thing is that if those who have come in stay with the movement right through then we will end up with a strong senior membership and that should make for a better future.
“My own club Helmsley YFC is absolutely thriving at the moment. They have all been at the young end of the membership from 12-18 predominantly and sometimes the older members have felt as though they have been more of a taxi service than senior members, but now a number of the younger ones have turned 17 and have passed their driving tests too. The only problem comes if they all disappear off to college as many don’t end up coming back.”
David is not one of those who believes that a Young Farmers Club is just about young people from farming families and he is delighted with the way one of the non-farming members from his club has embraced the most defining of all Young Farmers competitions.
“He’s an amazing stock judge. He loves it and thrives off it. Some farmers like me used to go to Young Farmers and think ‘bloody ‘ell, stock judging again’ and we would probably only be there because of the good feed afterwards as the mothers always seemed to try and outdo each other by providing the best tea. But he just loves it and it’s all he wants to do.
“If you’re good at stock judging as a club it can win you the rallies. There are a lot of stock judging events and if one club has won most of the stock judging it’s nearly a dead cert they will win the whole event. I never really thrived on it myself. Tractor driving was always more my thing.”
While there are hundreds of competitions that make up the County Show there is one that David holds dearest to his heart.
“I like something with a bit of passion about it and for me that’s the Tug o’ War. There might not be too much skill involved apart from a pull and rive, but the passion is everything. I bet if you asked most Young Farmers what their favourite event is a lot of them would say Tug o’ War. It’s serious. It’s win or die. It’s carnage!”
David started going to Helmsley YFC when he was 12 along with his brother Ian. Together they were known as “Big Nuffy” and “Little Nuffy”.
“When we first joined it was a small club but Ian did such a good job when he became chairman and I learned a lot from him. It’s true what they say about anything you do in the movement that the more you put in the more you get back in return. That’s what I have found.”
While David’s ambition has always been to farm in his own right he is professes to being more than happy where he is, working with Johnny Shaw, who is one of the most forward thinking farmers around.
“My parents have a tenanted farm at Beadlam Rigg which is great but unfortunately it is not big enough to support us all. I started my working life on a farm in Bilsdale and then worked for a few agricultural contractors, but it’s far better here. When you were contracting you had no idea where you were going to be each day and when you were going to finish. The first rule was always to take your dinner with you because you never knew when you would be back.
“We don’t have too much in the way of livestock, just a suckler herd of around 50 Limousin x Angus put to the Limousin bull. Johnny doesn’t believe in keeping sheep as he reckons they are ‘maggot taxis’ with only two ambitions in life – to die and to escape!
“Last year’s weather affected the farming operation as a whole and we are nowhere near where we should be this year.
“We’ve had to knock a few fields out and re-drill them. We’ve also just about given up on our oil seed rape crop.”
Yorkshire Federation of Young Farmers Clubs County Show (incorporating the County Rally) takes place at Bewerley Park, Pateley Bridge on Sunday June 2.
Their other main event this summer is Top of the Rock that takes place at Dialstone Farm, near Thirsk on Saturday July 6.
A positive outlook
Despite concerns for the tonnages and yields at this year’s harvest David is still upbeat about his job on the land, as well as his role with the Yorkshire Federation of Young Farmers Clubs.
“I wake up in a morning and I look forward to going to work. I enjoy what I do and I reckon that’s priceless. I attended the funeral of one of the movement’s greatest servants last year – ‘Uncle’ Frank Flintoft. What he did was an inspiration to us all.