Funds stripped from Young Farmers

Councillor Hamish Partridge.

Councillor Hamish Partridge.

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A North-East councillor has questioned the Scottish Government’s decision to remove funding for Young Farmers for the first time in 70 years.

Hamish Partridge, Councillor for Troup and a former Young Farmer, has said the decision to withdraw the Scottish Association of Young Farmers’ Clubs annual £66,000 grant is “disappointing and concerning”.

Councillor Partridge said: “The money is vital for experience and for the personal development of young farmers from rural areas.

“It’s a fantastic club and it’s a great social club.”

The SAYFC has over 3,500 members and the grant goes towards helping 14-30 year olds in rural businesses.

Mr Partridge said: “With our rural industries suffering in many ways and really struggling to attract younger people to take jobs, continue in family businesses or even start a new business I find it really disappointing and concerning that the Scottish Government has decided now to withdraw this vital support.”

He added: “To remove money now we are cutting our other hand off and we need to ask why.”

The Troup councillor has written an open letter to Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs Richard Lochhead asking for an explanation.

Mr Partridge said: “We have a number of Young Farmers Clubs in Strichen, New Deer and the wider area so I’m sure this will have an effect locally.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We value the work of the Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs and are committed to helping to increase opportunities for young farmers.

“Ministers will be inviting SAYF leaders to meet to discuss how the Scottish Government can help support their good work in light of the panel’s decision in relation to their application for youth work funding.”

The Government also said that organisations unsuccessful in the application process have been offered support from Lloyds Foundation to consider alternative funding sources, including other relevant Government funds.

Penny Montgomerie, SAYFC Chief Executive, said: “We are disappointed that the Scottish Government has taken this decision to no longer support SAYFC.

“The association offers a crucial network for many young people in rural Scotland as well as unique personal development opportunities.”

The Scottish Government have been contacted and are expected to issue a comment.