Yesterday, the European Council of Young Farmers organised a Networking Lunch in the European Parliament hosted by Mairead McGuinness MEP. The event focused on the future of the Common Agricultural Policy, particularly the much-needed rejuvenation of the farming sector and specific measures relating to help for young farmers, in an attempt to temper the impending age crisis in European agriculture.
Irish MEP, Mairead McGuinness opened the lunch and welcomed the young farmers from around Europe as well as some of their MEPs to the event, before ceding the floor to CEJA President Joris Baecke. Baecke detailed CEJA’s positions and objectives in this all-important year for the coming CAP reform, highlighting the need for strong public and political support for young farmers as well as the essential need for specific measures relating to support for young farmers being secured in the CAP-2014. MEPs then discussed issues with young farmers from their own countries over lunch, creating an atmosphere of cooperation and establishing lasting links between farmers and their representatives at the European level, and giving young farmers a chance to discuss the perils of being a farmer under-40 in the sector today with their own MEPs. Several MEPs from COMAGRI took the floor throughout the lunch, including MEP Elizabeth KOESTINGER, MEP Marc TARABELLA, MEP Esther DE LANGE, MEP Astrid LULLING and MEP Liam AYLWARD, each underlining their support for young farmers, as well as highlighting their own particular priorities within the CAP reform proposals.
Summing up the event, MEP Mairead McGuinness welcomed the positive engagement between European young farmers and the European Parliament in the debate on reform of the CAP saying: "Today, we restate out commitment to young farmers who are our future. Young farmers need real and effective measures in the CAP to assist those who are willing and able to farm. The current proposals at least acknowledge the concerns of young farmers. But the proposals need to be amended in order to make a real difference to the age structure on farms in the EU.
Compulsory measures in Pillar I can compliment measures in Pillar II”, she added.
She also urged young farmers to focus on all aspects of CAP reform, “direct payments are vital but so too are effective market measures.”
"Young farmers can also lead on the environment debate”, she added.
President Joris Baecke on his part stated that “European young farmers are looking forward to closer relations with the European Parliament and support from COMAGRI in EU decision-making across a broad range of aspects of European agriculture, as well as in securing specific measures for young farmers in the coming CAP reform.”
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