YOUNG people living in rural areas have listed affordable housing, the effects of the coronavirus outbreak and lack of resources as challenges for the future in a recent survey.

The National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (NFYFC) discovered 85 per cent of young people believe Covid-19 will have an impact on their future and two-thirds say it would be harder in the future for new entrants to get started in farming.

Affordable housing was highlighted as a major obstacle for young people wanting to remain in the countryside with 65 per cent of the 528 respondents saying there is not enough housing available for rural young people.

“Whilst this research raised some of the obvious issues around lack of affordable housing and the need for connectivity in rural areas, it also highlighted the wealth of skills and experiences of young people growing up on a farm,” said George Baxter, agri-chairman at the NFYFC.

“Young farmers’ clubs face significant challenges ahead but it’s clear from the feedback in the survey that the organisation offers an important service to young people in rural areas.

“These young people also make a vital contribution to the local communities where they live, and this has never been so apparent as during the Covid-19 crisis.”

The findings also showed rural young people cared about their communities and wanted to make a positive contribution but cited a lack of services such as youth clubs or a community centre as a key issue.

The NFYFC said the pandemic had triggered changes in young farmers’ routines, home life, education or employment, as well as activities off-farm. It also said that while Covid-19 has been easier to manage in rural settings it has driven enhanced feelings of isolation and had financial implications for organisations such as the young farmers’ clubs.

The new survey, a Defra-supported NFYFC project in collaboration with researchers Rose Regeneration, has been released during National Young Farmers’ Week.

Rose Regeneration is an economic development business, which works with communities, government and businesses to help them achieve their full potential.

“Over 500 responses from the people who represent the future of the farming community reveal a fascinating narrative,” added Ivan Annibal, managing director of Rose Regeneration,

“These are not promising times to be growing up in rural England.

“Our survey respondents reveal a worldly-wise series of perspectives on the future of farming which show an astonishing depth of insight.

“With not very much cause for optimism, this is a group of young people showing a determination to achieve their independence, putting back time and effort into their communities and planning actively around their development.

“They have been socially impacted by coronavirus and feel great uncertainty as the path to Brexit nears its conclusion.

“In spite of these challenges, most are positively getting on with their lives.”

The NFYFC has also launched its first fundraising campaign in its 89-year history as the organisation face a total loss of approximately £1 million due to the pandemic.

With restrictions having forced clubs to stop physical meetings and competitions, there are concerns some county federations are facing an uncertain future.

The Give it Some YFC Welly Relay campaign will see YFC members travel the distance between clubs in their county and passing a “virtual welly” on to the next county federation.