YOUNG farmers are being urged to get inventive and think of ways to keep in touch with each other.

All the youth organisation’s weekly meetings and diary of competitions have been postponed with immediate effect because of the threat of coronavirus.

The Young Farmers’ Club (YFC) has more than 22,000 members nationally, aged between ten and 26, and a countrywide network of 598 clubs.

Chairwoman of the Yorkshire Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs, Georgina Fort, said it had been ‘especially heartbreaking’ to have to cancel the culmination of the year’s work - the county rally planned for Saturday, May 23, at Thirsk Auction Mart.

“As a federation, we are very disappointed at this outcome but the health of everyone must take priority in these uncertain times,” said Ms Fort, who added that one positive is the advances in technology since the foot and mouth disease outbreak in 2001.

“It’s so important to try and keep our members engaged so we’re looking at things like online meetings and video calling.

“A lot of them live in very isolated rural areas and the weekly young farmers’ meetings are very much a lifeline; such a vital social link.

“YFC members were at the forefront of helping with the recent floods and they’re already showing the same community spirit, with clubs offering to help the elderly with shopping and simple things like taking the bins out.

“When we are finally allowed to resume meetings my sincere hope is that the organisation will come back stronger than ever.

“Hopefully members will really start to appreciate what a big part YFC plays in their lives and come back determined to get more involved.

“This is what happened after foot and mouth; there was a new appreciation of what a vital role the organisation plays and a new generation willing to put more back into the organisation.”

As well as thinking smart with regard to technology, Ms Fort, a dairy farmer from Silsden in West Yorkshire, said simple acts like making the effort to telephone somebody in addition to sending Snapchat messages or texts would be really appreciated.

“It’s amazing how young people stay in touch with each other via their mobile phones,” she said. “But for people, maybe driving a tractor all day and then no longer having YFC meetings to go to, a quick phone call and actually hearing somebody’s voice and having a friendly natter could make all the difference. It’s really important we pull together as an organisation and look out for each other.”

As well as the Samaritans, Ms Fort flagged up the Farming Community Network’s helpline on 03000 111999 and the YFC website and social media pages on Facebook and Twitter for updates.