What is CEJA?
CEJA - the European Council of Young Farmers - is the voice of Europe’s next generation of farmers to the European institutions.
CEJA’s main objective is to promote a younger and innovative agricultural sector across the EU 27 and to create good working and living conditions for young people setting up in farming and those who are already “Young Farmers”.
CEJA achieves this by acting as a forum for communication and dialogue between young farmers and European decision makers.
CEJA was founded in Rome, Italy in 1958. Through a series of bilateral contacts, organisations representing young farmers from the six initial members of the EEC set up a European organisation of young farmers in order to concentrate their action at European level and to concretely participate in the realisation of European integration. To this end, a “Comité d’Entente” was set up, which was later renamed the “European Council of Young Farmers”.
Since then CEJA has co-ordinated hundreds of seminars, visits, conferences, written reports and directed the concerns of young farmers towards the European institutions. From 1980 CEJA managed and co-ordinated the Exchange Programme for Young Farmers, PEJA. PEJA allowed young people to experience the agricultural sector in another country by living with a family on a farm for a longer period or by going as part of a group to visit the agricultural sector in another country for a short period.
CEJA has been active in raising awareness to the public of the agricultural sector and set up the Tellus educational project which reached millions of European school children. Moreover CEJA participated in the school fruit scheme.
Over the years many of CEJA's alumni: former young farm leaders, delegates and staff have gone on to a range of roles at European level such as becoming Members of the European Parliament, European Commission officials and of course successful agri-business people.
In 2011, CEJA represents 28 member organisations and 1 observer member from across EU Member States. In total, CEJA represents around one million young farmers in Europe and actively cooperates with other young farmers’ organisations in the European Union. In 2008, CEJA celebrated 50 years of existence. CEJA does not represent and does not depend on any political ideology and represents all categories of young farmers and young people interested in a future in farming and rural areas. There is an ageing tendency in the European agricultural sector stronger then in other economic sectors. With 52% of EU heads of farms being over 55 years of age and less than 7% being under 35 years old there is clearly a lack of opportunity for young people to set up in European agriculture.
CEJA believes in a future for European agriculture and calls for the creation of a European policy in favour of young farmers, which should serve to give a clear signal that Europe wants to maintain its agricultural sector. It should be an overall package of measures to be implemented at European level and not limited to a simple financial support. The package should be targeted at facilitating access to land and production rights, linking early retirement schemes to installation aid, strengthening education and training facilities for young people in rural areas; providing information as well as technical support, creating a transfer agency to encourage young people without an agricultural background to choose a future in farming and guidance for young farmers in the process of setting up.
CEJA stays in regular contact with young farmers’ organisations and agricultural institutions and associations throughout Europe and worldwide. CEJA also has strong links with different international youth organisations. At Brussels level, our partners include COPA-COGECA and we maintain good contacts with all relevant stakeholders from the agricultural, environmental, animal welfare and biodiversity sectors. At the international level, the organisatation will work closely with the new World Farmers Organisation, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization and Rural Youth Europe. CEJA also has a partnership office called CERYC, the Central European Rural Youth Centre.
CEJA is a democratic international organisation governed by a General Assembly, a Presidium (CEJA’s main decision making bodies), and a Presidency (which is made up of one President and four Vice-Presidents, elected for a two year term). The office is based in Brussels and is composed of several staff members.
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CEJA signed a partnership agreement with Rabobank on future collaboration - Read more in the joint press release here.