A move to increase the levy paid by local Young Farmers’ Clubs to the organisation’s national body by almost a third will be opposed at a crunch meeting this weekend.
The National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (NFYFC) has proposed raising the levy paid by individual members into the national federation by 30 per cent to meet the need “for increased investment in the running of vital services”.
Without the increase, the national federation says it will be facing a budget deficit of £175,965, or 12 per cent of its budgeted expenditure.
The rise would see thousands of young members across England and Wales paying an extra £5 for their membership each year and would equate to the Yorkshire Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs paying about an extra £7,500 annually into national coffers.
In total, the levy is worth £369,757 to the national federation. Members of Young Farmers’ Clubs currently pay £16.38 a year and this would rise to £21.38 under the proposed increase.
The national federation said that fee would still be “remarkably cheap compared with many other youth organisations”, but Ed Bentley, vice chairman of the Yorkshire Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs, who is opposing the 30 per cent rise, claims this is misleading.
The levy fee does not account for the full cost of membership of Young Farmers’ Clubs, he said. Members also pay a separate fee to their county organisation. In Yorkshire, the total membership cost is already £38.90 for junior members and £57.43 for senior members. County fees vary across the country.
Those fees are used to subsidise events and competitions run at a county-wide level but additional costs also arise for members throughout the year to take part in different activities.
The proposed levy hike will be discussed at the annual general meeting of the national federation in Blackpool this weekend where Mr Bentley will speak in support of an amendment tabled by the Lancashire federation to limit any increase in national fees to 10 per cent.
Mr Bentley, who represents 45 Young Farmers’ Clubs in Yorkshire with a total membership of around 1,700 young people, said he understands that the national federation is striving to meet the costs of modernising the organisation but that there should be long term planning around levy increases to avoid sudden hikes.
He said: “We are not against an increase in levy. YFC still offers excellent value for money but 30 per cent is too much of an increase in one year. The national federation needs to be budgeting more longer term to ensure these steep jumps are not required.
“We are proud to be backing Lancashire and supporting their very sensible compromise of 10 per cent.”
Rachel Parker, chairman of Lancashire Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs, added: “An increase of 30 per cent is just too steep and a lot of counties will struggle to find this extra money.”
In response to the concerns, the national federation issued a statement ahead of the AGM, which began yesterday.
Lynsey Martin, the NFYFC’s chairman of council, said: “The proposed increase in NFYFC’s levy is a positive step to help support the Federation and ensure it can continue to deliver services, such as its national competitions programme, as well as to develop the Federation.
“There has been an enormous increase in demand for help from county federations due to funding cuts to local youth services. This has caused a greater demand for support from NFYFC, support which now needs to be resourced adequately.
“The increase in levy will mean YFC members will pay £21.38 per person towards NFYFC’s services, which cost £62.78 in total. This still offers members very good value for money.”
The current levy covers 26 per cent of the national federation’s running costs and a £5 increase would take levy contributions to 34 per cent of the NFYFC’s budgeted expenditure for 2018.
An inflated levy would help pay for an online centralised membership system to be created, allowing members to join and pay for their NFYFC subscriptions via the web. This is intended to remove the job of membership administration from county offices, freeing up county staff to focus on supporting local clubs, the national federation said.
This new system would require an extra member of staff at the national federation to co-ordinate the work, while another extra member of staff is being sought for the federation’s development team.
The levy hike is proposed to start in September. A vote on the proposal will be held at the NFYFC annual general meeting on Sunday morning.