Young farmers have voted to increase the membership age of the National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs (NFYFC) from 26 to 28 following the pandemic's impact on the federation.
The decision means that from 1 September 2021, YFC members can join or remain a full member of NFYFC until they are 28 years old.
Individual clubs can choose to retain their current membership ages if they do not wish to recruit members above 26.
NFYFC members voted to increase the membership age at the 89th Annual General Meeting (AGM) held online on 29 April 2021.
The motion was proposed by Abbie Williams of Gwent FYFC and seconded by Bryony Wilson from Montgomery FYFC.
YFCs all received two votes to use before or during the AGM and 81.9% voted in favour of the motion, with 15.6% against and 2.5% abstaining.
Abbie argued that club committees would benefit from the increase in support from older members, as well as it being an opportunity to boost membership numbers.
She said during her presentation at the AGM: “More older members can help guide, support and lead a club.
"They have the knowledge, experience and maturity to help with the challenges that lie ahead.”
The fall in members due to the pandemic was also discussed and Abbie highlighted that after foot and mouth in 2001, it took five years for membership numbers to fully recover.
It was also highlighted that YFCs in Ulster and Scotland had an older membership age compared with NFYFC and it worked in those countries.
During the meeting, concerns were raised about the increase in the upper age limit and the impact this would have on the youngest members making decisions for the club.
NFYFC Chair of Council Rachel Goldie said the decision was a clear one from YFC members with the increase gaining a high percentage of the votes.
“It is YFC members who brought this motion to the AGM and it is YFC members who have voted to increase NFYFC’s upper membership age to 28," she said.
"Charitable governance has increased over the last few years and it is hoped that the older members can support younger members more with these increased responsibilities, while still enjoying the privileges of a full NFYFC membership.
“It may also offer more incentive for young people returning home after university to re-join their YFC again and to be part of their clubs for longer," she added.
Information, templates and guidance about changing a club’s constitution will be circulated to county federations in the coming weeks, NFYFC said.