A NEW president of the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (NFYFC) has been elected - and he is from the south west. 

John Lee OBE DL, from Devon, was voted president at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Sunday, April 21 2024. He takes on the role from rugby union referee and farmer Nigel Owens MBE. 

Since he was  just 16, John has been involved with Young Farmers Clubs (YFCs). He started out as a member of Newton St Cyres YFC in Devon and progressed through the organisation in club and county roles, before becoming chair of the NFYFC's Council. John is now the first former chairman to become president. 

A farmer by profession, John also has a background in agri-politics. Lord Henry Plumb, who was NFYFC president when John first attended an NFYFC AGM, later inspired him to become involved in European politics, becoming the first and only president of the European Council of Young Farmers (CEJA) from England and Wales.

John also chaired the European Exchange Programme on behalf of the EU and was appointed to the Common Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee by the then agricultural commissioner. 

“When I received the call from the NFYFC officers inviting me to be president, I was shocked and extremely surprised," he said.

"It’s such an honour to be the figurehead of such an amazing organisation that has helped shape and influence my own personal and professional life.

“This is the only organisation I have been involved in where the power comes upwards.It is the Young Farmers’ Clubs who are the foundation of the organisation and that is the great strength of YFC – it is an organisation that develops people’s skills or gives them opportunities to develop them, and I am looking forward to helping champion that.

South West Farmer:

“We faced financial challenges back in the 80s, as NFYFC does today, but I suspect these are greater now than they were then. Back in the 80s and 90s, most county federations had full time staff but today that’s only a luxury for a few, meaning more support is needed from NFYFC.

“Safeguarding has also become a priority, and rightly so, but this takes more resource and cost to make sure the whole organisation is compliant – not least because the average age of the membership has reduced considerably,”

John was also the founding chair of FACE (Farming and Countryside Education), joint patron of a national anti-bullying charity and a former High Sheriff of Devon. 

NFYFC chair of council Drew Bailey added: “John is an inspirational figurehead for NFYFC – demonstrating what can be achieved by being involved in the organisation. John’s impressive career and industry connections will bring advantages to NFYFC and will hopefully inspire rural young people about the possibilities through YFC.”

During the AGM seven deputy presidents were also elected, who included Fiona Marshall for the Eastern Area, Robert Barke for the East Midlands Area, Adrian Willis for the Northern Area, Alethea Snelling for the South East Area, Nigel Howe for the South West Area, Owen Elliott for Wales and Bert Mitchell for the West Midlands.