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On 14 May 2013, CEJA, the European Council of Young Farmers, and MEP Milan Zver held their third round table on young farmers in the European Parliament in Brussels entitled: “Young farmers ensuring sustainable growth for Europe’s future”. The event featured a number of high-level speakers from all three European Union (EU) institutions and attracted an audience made up of young farmers from across Europe, a number of MEPs and Member States’ representatives as well as other European stakeholders.
The event featured high-level speakers speaking on the subject of young farmers’ measures in the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform, and the state-of-play of current negotiations at this particularly crucial time in the decision-making process, with only six weeks to go until political agreement on all four CAP dossiers is expected to be found. Slovenian Agricultural Minister, Dejan Židan, outlined Slovenia’s support for young farmers and their commitment to obtaining strong measures for them in both pillars of the CAP. This call for strong public support for the younger generation of farmers was echoed by the Macedonian Minister for Agriculture, Ljupcho Dimovski, who shared concerns about the future of farming in the EU and beyond.
Roger Waite, Commission Spokesman for Agriculture, underlined the European Commissioner, Dacian Cioloş’, commitment to strong, complementary measures for young farmers in both Pillars of the CAP, including a mandatory top-up of direct payments in the first years of installation for farmers up to the age of 40. European Parliamentary EPP shadow rapporteur for direct payments, Mairead McGuinness, also present at negotiating trilogues, re-enforced this position from the European Parliament’s perspective, too, while Elisabeth Kostinger, rural development shadow, outlined the importance of strong Pillar II measures for young farmers. Finally, Dermot Ryan, chair of the SCA, speaking on behalf of the Irish Presidency as lead negotiator for the Agriculture and Fisheries Council, stood by the Council’s negotiating mandate in support of a voluntary top-up; however, Mr Ryan also outlined the Irish position in support of a mandatory measure for young farmers under direct payments.
These institutional perspectives on the negotiations were followed by an intervention from Gesa Wesseler from DG AGRI, outlining economic data which clearly depicts young farmers as “better than older farmers”, in terms of productivity, efficiency and innovation. CEJA President, Joris Baecke, followed this by presenting the CEJA recommendations for enhancing youth employment in agriculture under three categories: Access to the Profession; Access to Public Support; Access to Vocational Education and Training. Mr Baecke outlined the agricultural sector as an essential one for Europe’s economic recovery, stating that: “Agriculture is a robust sector in these times of economic turmoil. It presents opportunities for employment, particularly for young people, who tend to perform better in the sector than older farmers, and, according to employment rates, who are currently struggling to find jobs across the Union.”
The panel debates were followed by question and answer sessions with the audience, many of whom young farmers themselves, who were keen to question representatives from all three institutions. Summing up the conference in his closing speech, the host MEP, Milan Zver, stated that: “Following this round table discussion, young farmers have quite clearly proven themselves to be an asset to the EU agricultural sector and therefore the European economy. However, this means access to this sector for young people must be facilitated in every single EU Member State with as much support as possible. I therefore implore the three EU institutions to keep this in mind in the final stages of the CAP reform negotiations. We need young farmers to ensure the future of European growth, both agriculturally and economically.”
Earlier today, CEJA President Joris Baecke presented Commissioner Dacian Cioloş, COMAGRI Chair Paolo de Castro and President of the Agricultural Council Simon Coveney with the outcome of CEJA’s celebrated Future Food Farmers campaign in the form of three keys. These keys represent the handover of responsibility to the decision-makers: the key to the CAP reform, and with it, to the future of European agriculture, now rests in the hands of the three EU institutions and their representatives in the CAP trilogues. The end-event press conference was also attended by a number of Ministers and agricultural counselors, including Minister Sharon Dijksma from the Netherlands and Cypriot Minister Nicos Kouyialis, as well as the EU press.
CEJA’s Future Food Farmers campaign was launched seven months ago, on World Food Day 2012, with the aim of raising awareness of the impending age crisis in EU agriculture and the nowwell-known statistic – only 6% of European farmers are under the age of 35 – in order to prompt strong measures to increase generational renewal in the sector in the final political agreement on the CAP 2014-2020. Gathering support from across the political spectrum, Future Food Farmers also, crucially, brought together a number of EU stakeholders directly or indirectly related to the agri-food sector. These included industry representatives such as FoodDrinkEurope and retail and trade representatives Eurocommerce, among many others, demonstrating just how widespread the concern about this demographic trend in the sector is in the food chain. The European Commission has heeded CEJA’s words, and so has the European Parliament – now it is time for the European Council to do the same, and avoid the imminent age crisis in European farming.
Upon receiving their “key to the future of farming”, all three members of the trilogue acknowledged the importance of strong support within the CAP to address the lack of generational renewal in EU agriculture. The Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dacian Cioloş, re-iterated the importance for the cause, stating that: “CEJA’s “Future Food Farmers” campaign, which has accompanied the Common Agricultural Policy reform process for several months now, has my full support. The time has come for the European institutions to take important decisions for the future of the CAP and employment in our rural areas. In June, we will have to equip the CAP with the necessary tools to meet the challenge of an ageing demographic. This requires a reform that guarantees strengthened installation aid measures for all young Europeans who wish to invest themselves in the agricultural sector, whatever country of the EU they are in. I am pleased to see that the European Parliament supports this direction so resolutely, and I hope that the Council will be able to swiftly do the same”.
In turn, Chair of the European Parliament’s Agriculture and Rural Development Committee (COMAGRI) did the same, underlining the Parliament’s commitment to young farmers’ measures, saying: “The European Parliament’s position on the future CAP supports ambitious measures to reverse the negative demographic trend in the agricultural sector. Parliament supports a mandatory top-up of direct payments for the younger generation in addition to a series of investment supports in the Second Pillar, and calls on the other EU institutions to do the same. I would like to salute CEJA for its excellent work on raising awareness of the issue and for its campaign advocating strong support for young farmers and, consequently, the future of European agriculture.”
Finally, President of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council, Simon Coveney, also underlined his support for the cause, saying: “When we consider the shape of a reformed CAP, we will need a policy that continues to support farmers and that encourages generational renewal. The CAP has a good track record in this respect and in relation to young farmers, the reform proposals contain a number of incentives directed specifically at the younger generation. Although the final shape of these provisions still has to be agreed, I believe sincerely that taken together, they have the potential to maintain and promote farming as a viable and attractive business prospect for the younger generation.”
Both Agricultural Ministers attending the event also took the floor to outline their determination to implement measures to reverse the demographic trend across the Union as well as in their own Member States, including the Dutch Minister for Agriculture, Sharon Dijksma, who is particularly vocal about the importance of the top-up of direct payments for young farmers being mandatory for Member States. She stated that: “"The future of agriculture depends on young farmers. Therefore it is important that there is extra support for young farmers within the new Common Agricutural Policy."
CEJA President Joris Baecke, who presented the three decision-makers with the Future Food Farmers keys on behalf of CEJA’s two million young farmers and all the Future Food Farmers signatories and those they represent, addressed the Commissioner, Committee Chair and President of the Farm Council with the words: “Now, you hold the key: the key to the CAP reform, the key to the farm gates for young farmers across the EU. The future of European agriculture is in your hands and the livelihoods of millions rest upon your shoulders.”
On 27 February 2013, CEJA, the European Council of Young Farmers, organised a round table discussion on the subject of “Enhancing youth employment in agriculture for a more sustainable Europe”. Based on discussions between social partners that followed presentations from experts, the round table’s rapporteur, Professor Lebailly, drafted a set of EU-level policy recommendations across three themes: Access to Vocational Education and Training, Access to the Profession and Access to Public Support. These were then endorsed by social partners.
Considering that youth unemployment in Europe is high and that the agricultural sector offers significant employment opportunities for young people with or without an agricultural background, as well as the fact that the sector is suffering from a demographic crisis, the round table was organised around three core themes. These consisted of: access to the profession, access to public support and access to vocational education and training. The round table gathered more than 150 young farmers, senior farmers, agricultural workers and employers, public policy-makers, business representatives and education professionals.
The recommendations call for strong public support for young people attempting to enter the sector, and endorse the implementation of a mandatory top up of direct payments for young farmers during the first five years of their farm, accompanied by a strong installation aid policy. These measures should be mandatory for all 27 Member States, so as to guarantee a level playing field among young people across the European Union. On access to the profession, there are specific recommendations on the issue of access to land, including the promotion of new models of collaboration between generations through partnership, share-farming, long-term leasing and other contractual arrangements. On access to credit, support with preferential loans is recommended. On vocational education and training, farm advisory services should be equally available to all young farmers across the EU free of charge, and there should be an easily-accessible European training network available to all, too.
Professor Lebailly, from Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech (ULg), Belgium, rapporteur at the round table, stated that: “The implementation of these recommendations would support the younger generation in embracing agriculture as a sector for their future profession. This would help to reverse the damaging demographic trend in agriculture and will contribute to job creation, productivity enhancement, better sustainability and increased efficiency in the sector”.
Joris Baecke, President of CEJA, also praised the recommendations, outlining that: “These recommendations come at a crucial time in the CAP reform process, just as negotiations between the three institutions are accelerating. I hope that the decision-makers listen to what social partners in agriculture are calling for: strong public support for the younger generation, taking the form of a mandatory top up of direct payments in the first pillar, as income support for the young at the beginning of their career, accompanied by equally strong measures in the second pillar”.
The recommendations are available here: http://www.futurefoodfarmers.eu/yaeplus/ and will soon be available in all EU languages, when they will be disseminated to all EU agricultural and education ministries.
On 17 April 2013 in Niigata, Japan, the General Assembly of the World Farmers’ Organisation (WFO) unanimously adopted a proposal by CEJA for differentiated and specific terms of membership, with favourable membership fees for young farmer organisations, in order to guarantee young farmer participation from across the world.
CEJA, the European Council of Young Farmers, has been an associate member of the World Farmers’ Organisation since its creation in 2011, and has been particularly supportive of the WFO throughout its conception. This year, CEJA called for the establishment of a specific membership structure for young farmer organisations within the international farming body so that young farmers across the world can have access to the representation they require and deserve.
CEJA President Joris Baecke hailed the decision as crucial to the future of farming representation, stating that “We have no doubt that young farmers from across the globe can help the WFO to grow and flourish in this constantly changing world, and we are convinced that the WFO can help young farmers by giving them a voice on an international platform. This membership structure will give young farmers the opportunity to exchange and co-operate on future opportunities and challenges in farming in a genuinely global context.”
On 16 April 2013, Vice-President Laurent Frantz put CEJA’s proposal across to the WFO General Assembly participants in a speech during the session on ‘Youth and Women’. Clarifying the importance of young farmers, the WFO, and young farmer representation within it, Mr Frantz stated that: “Young farmer organisations are vital in raising awareness of the importance of young people in the sector and their access to it. This is why it is essential that young farmers have a dedicated, accessible place in the WFO.”
CEJA, the European Council of Young Farmers, has been speaking at several high-level events this week on the subject of greening measures in the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). One of the first farming organisations to welcome the greening of 30% of direct payments in the new CAP, CEJA, representing the next generation of European farmers, is ready to take on the responsibility of making EU agriculture more sustainable. However, more detailed discussion is needed on making these measures more workable and realistic for farmers, in order to achieve genuine progress in the area of increased environmental protection and biodiversity conservation.
On 10 April 2013, CEJA Vice-President Ingrid Pettersson, a young farmer from Sweden, spoke on the subject of “Innovation – the way forward” at the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) conference “Sealing the Deal on a Greener CAP?” in Dublin. Outlining the importance of young farmers for a more environmentally sustainable future for Europe, Ms Pettersson outlined the consistently better performance of young farmers than older farmers in the sector; including higher productivity levels, better efficiency, increased environmental sensitivity and a significantly higher standard of relevant education. Concluding her speech, Ingrid outlined the importance of securing young farmers’ measures in the new CAP, stating that “food security and environmental challenges will not be achieved without first addressing the demographic challenges which stand in their way”.
Yesterday Thursday 11 April 2013, CEJA Vice-President Jose Fernando Robles, a young farmer from Seville, Spain, participated in the break-out session on water at the European Crop Protection Association (ECPA) “Hungry for Change II” high-level conference. The only farmer on a panel including academics, industry representatives and water company representatives, Mr Robles acknowledged the importance of protecting water. However, the CEJA Vice-President also clarified the importance of sharing the costs of the implementation of best management practices for water protection. “It is a joint effort”, he said, “between farmers, industry and other stakeholders. The work of the industry should not stop at simply offering measures to farmers, but should extend to bearing some of the costs of implementation, too.” Mr Robles also re-iterated the importance of flexibility for farmers in greening measures in the next CAP reform, which, alongside young farmers’ measures, are currently being discussed in detail in CAP trilogues between the three institutions.
CEJA, the European Council of Young Farmers, welcomes the agreement on the negotiating mandate of the European Agriculture and Fisheries Council for the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) 2014-2020. Following the European Parliament’s plenary vote on their mandate last week, trilogues will now be able to start between the three institutions on 11 April 2013 with a view to achieving final agreement by the end of June. However, CEJA is deeply disappointed with the lack of commitment shown by Ministers on the subject of generational renewal in agriculture, as there was no majority support among Ministers for a mandatory top-up of direct payments for young farmers in Pillar I of the new CAP.
Support for a voluntary top-up, and therefore an uneven playing field for young people attempting to enter the sector across Europe, constitutes a missed opportunity for Ministers in curtailing the severe age crisis in the sector and its repercussions. As advocated by both the European Commission and Parliament, the figures on this issue speak for themselves – the lack of young farmers and generational renewal in the sector is a problem in every EU Member State, and therefore requires a common European solution. Flexibility on support for young farmers is provided for in Pillar II of the CAP under rural development, whereas Pillar I should oblige Member States to address the issue, precisely because of its gravity in scope and scale.
However, considering that the European Commission and European Parliament have again reiterated their strong support for a mandatory measure for young farmers in direct payments, as well as some individual Member States, CEJA will now focus on the trilogue negotiations to secure the support for young farmers that the sector requires. CEJA President Joris Baecke underlined this point, stating: “It is imperative that young farmers’ measures are not lost in the sea of bargaining and trade-offs in the next few months – waiting until the next reform in 2020 will simply be too little, much too late.”
On other points within the agreed mandate, CEJA welcomes increased flexibility on greening measures and the option to use national certification schemes to fulfill requirements, however, although the increased landscape features falling within its definition are also welcomed, 5% is considered too high as a starting point for Ecological Focus Areas (EFA). On market management measures, CEJA regrets the Council’s decision to abolish sugar quotas and to disallow the re-entry of Member States who left the system during restructuring. This is because the sugar sector provides significant opportunities for young farmers who are generally faced with substantial challenges to find revenue in the food supply chain.
The CEJA President congratulated the Irish Presidency on achieving agreement, but also expressed his concerns on some of the content, stating that: “The opportunity to implement an EU-wide measure for young farmers cannot be missed in this CAP reform. The call for increased flexibility should not be used as an excuse for lack of action on a problem as serious as this one.”
The Macra na Feirme-CEJA Seminar started on Monday morning, with interventions from both the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dacian Cioloş, and Irish Minister for Agriculture and Chair of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council of Ministers, Simon Coveney. European young farmers then participated in workshops in the afternoon, during which they analysed and discussed current Rural Development policy in relation to young farmers as well as the European Commission’s proposals for the future CAP. The recommendations by young farmers resulting from these discussions were then discussed and elaborated on in a CEJA working group on Wednesday, compiling them into the Dublin Declaration, which was then adopted.
This Declaration outlines a number of measures under rural development that are particularly important for young farmers, organised according to the most relevant articles to young farmers in the proposals for the new CAP, touching upon issues such as Advisory Services, Business Development, Co-operation, and more. Crucially, this list of recommendations, all of which should be provided for under the new CAP and in every EU Member State, must also be used in combination with a mandatory income support measure for young farmers in the form of a top-up of direct payments in the first pillar in order to adequately address the gravity of the current age crisis in the sector. This thought was echoed by the Commissioner on Monday morning, making it clear in his intervention that the young farmer top-up must be “binding for all Member States, as [the lack of young farmers] is a European challenge that needs a European, common answer”. This was underlined by Macra na Feirme President Alan Jagoe in his address to the two members of the trilogue, stating that: “Young farmers are more productive, efficient, and better-trained than older farmers. They deserve strong support and a level playing field across Europe.”
Minister Coveney was also positive about young farmers’ measures in the CAP reform, stating that, “at a time when we have huge youth unemployment across our countries and when we need generational change and innovation in food production it makes perfect sense to prioritise young farmers in the new, reformed CAP.” In conclusion, after the contributions of both the Commissioner and Minister, Joris Baecke underlined the necessity of a good result for young farmers’ measures following the trilogues, to guarantee that this CAP reform will address the need for generational renewal in the sector without fail.
Monday’s discussions were followed by a reception for the European young farmers at Áras an Uachtaráin, the residence of President of Ireland Michael D Higgins. Welcoming the CEJA and Macra na Feirme members into his home, the President congratulated the farmers on their “extremely important” contribution to the rural development debate and said that it was “critically important” that their voices be heard. In parallel to the Macra na Feirme conference, CEJA was also able to outline how imperative the young farmers’ measures in the new CAP are to the future of European food production to national parliamentarians, when Vice-President Laurent Frantz addressed a meeting of the Chairpersons of national Agriculture and Fisheries committees in Dublin Castle on Monday morning. Mr Frantz reminded the national representatives of what is at stake in the new CAP, stating that: “it is crucial that we secure the adequate natural resources, financial resources, and most importantly, human resources, to keep European agriculture alive and well”.
This conference, and its focus on rural development, has come at a crucial time in the negotiations on the new CAP, considering the European Parliament’s plenary vote yesterday, adopting a negotiating mandate for the CAP trilogues. This should be followed by the Council’s conclusion of their mandate at the beginning of next week in the two-day Farm Council. In this context, CEJA’s Dublin Declaration is particularly crucial ahead of the next three months of negotiations between the institutions. CEJA President Joris Baecke underlined this fact, stating that: “The European Commission proposed strong measures for young farmers, and the European Parliament has endorsed them and strengthened them. Now it is up to the Council to do the same, and for the Commission and Parliament to stand by their positions and see these measures through to the end.”
Download the Dublin Declaration and other CEJA position papers here: http://www.ceja.eu/en/policy-and-publications/position-papers
Today, CEJA held a round table in Brussels in cooperation with the University Agro-Bio Tech de Gembloux (ULg) and with the support of European Commission DG Employment’s Unit for Industrial Relations and Social Dialogue. European young farmers, EU decision-makers and agricultural stakeholders participated in discussions which resulted in drafting concrete recommendations to secure the future of European food production.
Based on findings from a survey on young farmers conducted in the summer, the round table consisted of four main panel sessions: one which set the context of the issue, one on education and vocational training in agriculture, one on access to profession and one on public support and the new CAP.
The round table conclusions from the rapporteur revolved around both opportunities and challenges: there is a clear need for the agricultural sector to become a source of youth employment in Europe, however, there is also an overarching challenge facing young farmers attempting to enter the sector which involves succession. Based on this, the recommendations from the rapporteur included the idea of encouraging succession brokers for agricultural families in order to ease the transfer of land between generations. EU-wide online training courses and educational exchanges between farms could also help attract the best young people to the sector. Most importantly, rapporteur Professor Lebailly made it clear that although youth unemployment needs to be tackled in all sectors, agriculture obviously requires particular measures, which is why specific and obligatory measures to increase generational renewal in farming must be applied in every EU Member State.
All the rapporteur’s recommendations will be finalised, translated into all 23 official EU languages, and sent to the European press, 27 national ministries for agriculture, education and employment, as well as widely distributed at EU level to the institutions, and down to regional level and then farm level through CEJA members. These recommendations will be accompanied by an Action Plan for implementation to ensure real impact across the Union. On this subject, Joris Baecke, CEJA President and chair of the event, stated that: “Considering the recent MFF discussions and the squeezed CAP budget, you can imagine that some Member States may try to sidestep measures providing support for young farmers if they can. This is unacceptable. Speaker after speaker outlined the problem and the solutions today at our round table: it is time that these words were turned into action at EU level.”
Tomorrow, practical examples of the challenges and opportunities discussed throughout the event today will be experienced by the participants on farm visits both in Wallonia and Flanders to young farmers who have taken innovative steps towards increased productivity and sustainability.
Joris Baecke, President of the European Council of Young Farmers (CEJA), was speaking in Kiev, Ukraine on Monday 18 February at a workshop on the subject of young farmers co-organised by the European Commission and the Ukraine Chambers of Agriculture within the framework of the European Neighbourhood Partnership (ENP). Mr Baecke presented CEJA’s work, structure and achievements at EU level in a bid to suggest a model for potential representation in Ukraine. The workshop, entitled “EU perspectives for the young Ukrainian farmers”, consisted of several panel debates on a number of related agricultural issues. As well as delivering a keynote speech in the opening session, the CEJA President also chaired one of the workshop’s panel debates, on the subject of ‘cooperation as a driving force for profitable agricultural production’, a topic which was at the heart of Mr Baecke’s message.
Outlining the importance of young farmer representation across the EU, further afield, and all over the world, Mr Baecke highlighted the need for increased exchange in terms of knowledge, ideas and cooperation among young farmers. Young farmers are more productive, efficient, environmentally-friendly and educated than other farmers, leading to more innovative and ambitious ideas for the future. Organisations like CEJA can bring these farmers and ideas together in order to innovate and improve the agricultural sector. This is also why CEJA is an affiliate member of the World Farming Organisation (WFO), in order to learn from farmers further afield than the EU too.
Speaking to the audience of Ukrainian young farmers, the CEJA President clearly presented the needs of young farmers within the EU and beyond, stating that: “We are seeing a decrease in the number of young people entering agriculture across the globe at a time where the sector needs innovation, increased productivity and increased sustainability more than ever before. This demands an appropriate reaction in agricultural policy reform: incentives and support must be provided for ambitious and well-educated young people to enter the sector before it is too late, and the EU should be taking the lead on this and setting the example.”
CEJA, the European Council of Young Farmers, has today called for the continuation of a strong Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) within a strong EU budget for 2014-2020 ahead of Multi-Financial Framework (MFF) discussions due to take place in Brussels tomorrow. In order to secure our food supply, it is vital that EU leaders agree on strong support for both pillars in the CAP so as to allow European farmers to continue to provide affordable, high-quality food and to protect the environment, biodiversity and the vitality of rural areas for the citizens of Europe.
A competitive agricultural sector in Europe is crucial in order to safeguard growth and employment, not just in rural areas but across the Union, in these difficult economic times. As the CAP is undergoing reform for the future of agriculture, we must ensure the sustainable development of this sector: as we place heavier demands on EU farmers to abide by new rules for environmental protection and the liberalisation of the sector, we must at least ensure that they are able to afford to carry these out. It is unacceptable to increase demands on European farmers while cutting their incomes – for this reason, it is crucial that the CAP stays strong in both pillars, to ensure the survival of the vitality of rural areas across the Union, as well as to secure the already meagre incomes many European farmers live on. It is also essential that money is invested today, before it is too late, into securing the future of the sector – by tempering the trend in agricultural demographics through support for young farmers’ measures in both pillars of the CAP.
Speaking on the eve of the high-level EU budget summit, CEJA President Joris Baecke underlined the importance of a strong CAP by stating that: “Employment in the agricultural sector in Europe is already under threat – that is clear by the ageing farming population – it is extraordinary that EU leaders would worsen this trend by cutting the CAP budget at a time where agriculture and the agro-food industry sectors across the rest of the world are seeing increases in support. It is also time that EU citizens acknowledged the burden that rests on farmers’ shoulders – they cannot be expected to continue providing high-quality, affordable food to the public at the cost of their own livelihoods.” The CEJA President continued by saying: “It is also essential that EU leaders come to an agreement on the MFF this week if we are to end uncertainty for farmers and implement crucial agricultural reform for the future. A strong CAP means a strong agricultural sector. A strong agricultural sector means food security, environmental sustainability, vitality of rural areas, growth, employment and much more. All of this will be put at risk if tomorrow’s budget sacrifices a strong CAP for nothing more than political point-scoring.”
Having finalised its voting recommendations on the European Parliament’s compromise amendments to three out of the four proposals for the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) at a CEJA Working Group in Sweden on Monday, CEJA has requested particular votes from MEPs ahead of today’s Committee vote. CEJA requested positive votes on certain compromises covering young farmers’ measures in both pillars, the greening of direct payments and the single CMO.
CEJA has congratulated MEPs on the impressive work they have done by whittling down 8000 amendments on the new CAP to just 100 compromises, and has now requested key positive votes to compromise amendments which support and strengthen the European Commission’s CAP legislative proposals. In particular, the amendment supporting the mandatory nature of the top-up of direct payments for young farmers and the removal of the upper ceiling of the percentage of the national envelope available to finance this. CEJA also welcomes the proposed additional inclusion of support for young farmers in several sections of the Rural Development regulation, including in farm and business development and advisory services articles. CEJA believes that if these particular compromises are voted through later today, this will send a strong political signal from the European Parliament on the urgent need to address the concerning lack of generational renewal in the EU agricultural sector.
The European Council of Young Farmers also sent a number of voting recommendations supporting certain compromise amendments on the greening of direct payments and the single common market organisation legislative proposals. In particular, CEJA has come out in support of the idea of allowing equivalence for the three greening measures proposed by the European Commission under certain conditions, through, among other things, the use of certified schemes. The compromises on this subject increase flexibility for farmers while still greening the CAP and allowing particular regional and national circumstances to be taken into account. CEJA has also supported a number of the Single CMO compromises, including on sugar, dairy and wine sectors, as well as competition rules and the school fruit schemes.
CEJA hopes these compromises will be successfully voted through later today, in order to bring the CAP negotiations closer to a conclusion which will address the needs of the future of EU agriculture. Speaking on the subject of the voting recommendations, CEJA President Joris Baecke said: “As a European organisation, CEJA has the interests of the whole of the EU at heart – all 27 Member States – in that spirit, we came to a number of our own compromises on the recommendations in our internal Working Group on the subject. We hope that the CAP reform negotiations will continue in this essential spirit of compromise, in order to achieve a final agreement by the end of the Irish Presidency so that the new CAP will be able to address current and future challenges over the next seven years.”
Over 50 CEJA members and more than 150 Swedish young farmers attended a conference organised by LRF in Skövde, Sweden on Monday 21 and Tuesday 22 January 2013 on the subject of “Young Farming – CAP Towards 2020”. The conference was preceded by a CEJA Working Group in the town hall of Skövde, with internal discussions taking place on the European Parliament’s final compromise amendments. CEJA voting recommendations to MEPs on these for the Committee of Agriculture and Rural Development (COMAGRI) vote on compromise amendments to all four regulations on 23 and 24 January 2013 were also finalised.
Considering the opportune timing of the LRF young farmer conference on the future Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), CEJA President Joris Baecke seized the opportunity of his welcome speech at the opening of the conference on Tuesday to thank Swedish young farmers for their continued involvement in CEJA. This was followed by a video message from Commissioner Cioloş, in which he reiterated that young farmers must be “at the heart of the Common Agricultural Policy for after 2013”. He also called for a mandatory top-up for young farmers of direct payments, stating that: the "installation of young farmers is key to the future of European agriculture, and this concerns all European countries."
Following an intervention from Swedish Minister for Rural Affairs Eskil Erandsson, President Baecke took part in a panel debate on the subject of “the CAP and the future of sustainable agriculture” alongside LRF Youth President Kristina Ingwe and other stakeholder representatives. The CEJA President called upon the participants of the conference to demand answers from their national Ministers on the question of support for young farmers within the new CAP, highlighting the fact that “politicians should be ambitious enough to deliver concrete action now.” CEJA Vice-Presidents Laurent Frantz, Rok Sedminek and Jose Fernando Robles also contributed to the event by chairing a panel debate each, drawing conclusions from the discussions and touching upon topics under the new CAP such as generational renewal, greening and innovation.
Monday’s CEJA Working Group, taking place in the Skövde Town Hall and featuring a welcome speech from the Mayor, Leif Walterum, resulted in intensive discussions on the details of the compromise amendments and agreement on over 20 voting recommendations which will be sent to MEPs before the COMAGRI meeting on Wednesday 23 January 2013.
CEJA’s Future Food Farmers campaign was a finalist in the category ‘Communication to Stakeholders’ in DG AGRI’s CAP@50 Communications Award, coming second to the ADEPT Foundation from Romania. The 12 finalists, separated into four categories, were selected from a total of 118 projects from 21 Member States, with Future Food Farmers the only project that was EU-wide. The winners were chosen by an audience of over 150 journalists and communications experts after a three-minute pitch by the presenters at the networking event “CAP@50” hosted by the European Commission in Brussels on 10 December 2012.
CEJA’s Future Food Farmers campaign takes the form of a pledge text which has already obtained the support of Commissioners, over 50 MEPs, several food supply chain actors, academics and other members of the general public. You can find the other supporters on the campaign website: www.futurefoodfarmers.eu. CEJA aims to continually expand this list until the pledge text and its signatories are presented to Farm Commissioner Dacian Ciolos, COMAGRI Chair Paolo de Castro, and President of the Farm Council and Irish Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney at the CAP trilogues in Spring 2013.
CEJA President Joris Baecke outlined the raison d’être behind Future Food Farmers, highlighting this crucial reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and its importance for the future of European agriculture. Mr Baecke described the dire situation of current demographics in the sector, namely that there are currently five times the number of farmers over the age of 65 than those under 35; and explained that our future food production depends on reversing this trend, and that all stakeholders, decision-makers and the general public must be made aware of the gravity of this age crisis. When asked why he thought the campaign deserved to be in the finals, the CEJA President explained that: “Future Food Farmers has succeeded in showing decision-makers and the general public that a wide variety of stakeholders are particularly concerned about the current lack of generational renewal in European agriculture. This therefore must be addressed, without fail, within this CAP reform”.
On 6 December 2012, the European Parliament’s European People’s Party (EPP) political group hosted a European Young Farmers’ Congress organised by Spanish MEP Esther Herranz and Portuguese MEP Nuno Melo. The congress saw young farmers from several EU Member States travelling to Brussels to attend. The Congress centred around an innovation prize, chosen by a panel of judges including CEJA President Joris Baecke and Commissioner Dacian Cioloş. This was followed by a debate and an intervention from Mr Baecke on the subject of young farmers in the CAP reform at this particularly crucial time in the negotiations.
Following an intervention from Head of Commissioner Ciolos’ Cabinet Georg Hausler earlier that day, and once the innovation prize winners had been announced, the CEJA President took centre stage at the European Young Farmers’ Congress to highlight the timeliness of this gathering of European young farmers and their EU-level representatives. Taking advantage of an audience of decision-makers as well as young farmers, considering that the European Parliament’s deadline for compromise amendments to the CAP reform stands at 14 December 2012 – just over a week away – Mr Baecke called on MEPs to “stand up for young farmers by endorsing an ambitious package of common and effective measures” to facilitate the installation of young people in to the EU agricultural sector.
Then shifting the focus to the Commission, the CEJA President acknowledged the inclusion of support for young farmers’ measures in the CAP legislative proposals while reminding the Commission to “keep up this momentum as we enter the next stages of discussions”. In the context of current budget talks and delays in CAP negotiations, Mr Baecke emphasised the importance of a “strong CAP budget” but also of common EU policy measures, underlining the fact that “young farmers’ measures must be used to their maximum potential in every single Member State, thereby helping to ensure a level playing field for young farmers across Europe and a sustainable future for the sector”.
On 21 November 2012 the CEJA President, Joris Baecke, spoke at the German Bundestag at an event organised by the Green Party of Germany on the subject of “The situation of agricultural entrepreneurs in Europe and prospects on the future CAP”. Mr Baecke underlined the importance of young farmers’ measures as proposed by the Commission for the next CAP, particularly in context of ongoing negotiations on the future of the EU budget which is putting funds to farmers at risk.
The CEJA President outlined CEJA’s views on the CAP reform, advocating support for the Commission’s legislative proposals – most notably, a mandatory top-up of direct payments to young farmers in Pillar I and a co-financing ratio of 80/20 for the young farmer subprogramme in Pillar II. Mr Baecke also seized the opportunity to call on German politicians to support CEJA’s Future Food Farmers campaign in order to reinforce and raise the profile of the issue of the lack of generational renewal in European agriculture – including in Germany, where only 7.7% of young farmers are under 35 years old, a concerning figure despite it being above the EU-27 average.
The CEJA President also had the opportunity to address a Polish audience on similar issues the day before, when he participated in the IVth European Forum for Young Farmers in the Lodzkie region of Poland. Following an opening lecture from Waldemar Guba, a representative from the Polish Ministry for Agriculture, Joris Baecke spoke to an audience of young farmers, decision-makers and stakeholders, on the subject of EU agricultural policy, including CEJA’s positions on greening and young farmers’ measures.
Joris Baecke commented on his participation in the young farmer events across Europe, stating: “Particularly in the context of EU budget cuts, this issue is more relevant than ever. Young farmers are the most vulnerable of entrepreneurs who need financial support in the first years of their career, as well as the incentive and assistance to successfully start-up a business. This CAP reform is our opportunity to start reversing the ageing trend in the sector – if we miss it because of demands to find arbitrary cuts across the board, we will seriously regret it in the years to come.”
CEJA opposes the new draft for the Multi-Financial Framework (MFF) negotiating box proposed yesterday by President Van Rompuy. The revised negotiating box includes a significantly higher proportion of cuts to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) budget than had previously been proposed by the European Commission in its legislative proposals.
As the extraordinary November Summit on MFF negotiations draws closer, increasingly larger cuts have been proposed to the CAP budget. Considering that the new CAP will make tougher demands on farmers and will require them to do more in order to receive their direct payments, CEJA holds the position that the CAP budget should stay in line with the Commission’s proposals. CEJA is also particularly concerned about the impact this would have on young farmers’ measures – one of the most crucial aspects of this reform – because the lack of generational renewal in EU agriculture is simply too substantial to scrimp or save on.
European farmers are already being squeezed today in the face of market volatility, price fluctuations and low yields. After 2014, they will be required to take more land out of production and spend more money on modernisation and environmental protection, too. CEJA agrees that these are necessary reforms to the EU agricultural sector, but cannot accept increased demands on farmers for a cut in their payments.
CEJA President, Joris Baecke, commented on the Council’s new proposals, stating that: “These are unreasonable cuts to the CAP budget. They are not fair, or feasible, and could lead to drastic consequences for the future of European agriculture. The European Parliament and European Commission are standing strong on this – we will fight any cuts which jeopardise farms and farmers’ livelihoods across Europe.”
With view to structure the debate in Council which will take place on 22 October 2012, the Cyprus Presidency circulated a questionnaire on the nature of the young farmers’ scheme to the Farm Ministers. Delegations are invited to answer the following two questions: ‘Do you agree that ageing of the farming population is an EU-wide problem and that common action is required at EU level?’ & ‘What is your view about the nature of the Young Farmers’ Scheme and on the proposal that Member States deciding to apply the respective second pillar scheme should be exempted from the application of the first pillar scheme?’
Ageing of the farming population is an EU-wide problem. The trend is common across all Member States and does not show any sign of reversal: lack of generational renewal is accompanied by an ageing trend:, one third of the European farming population is over the age of 65. This is a common problem which requests common European action. The vitality, competitiveness and sustainability of the sector are at stake. Without future farmers, there will be no future for sustainable European agriculture.
The young farmers’ scheme should include mandatory measures in first pillar as well as in the second pillar. The proposed measures are complementary and answer different objectives. The first pillar measure answers the issue of income support. The top up is direct income support to the most vulnerable category of farmers: the young farmers just after their installation. The objective of this top up is to act as a buffer against price volatility and to support the income of young farmers in their most difficult years. The installation aid under Pillar II supports the investment that will be made by a young farmer when buying out the farm. Any alternative to this common approach would place young farmers on different playing fields.
Commenting on the issue, Joris Baecke stated that “A Common Installation Policy is essential to accompany the new Common Agricultural Policy. We need strong, effective measures to ensure generational renewal in European agriculture. Any alternative to the proposed Young Farmers’ scheme will prove insufficient, and 2020 will be too late to address the problem”.
The European Council of Young Farmers, CEJA, has chosen the World Food Day to mark the official launch of its campaign “Future...Food...Farmers”. This campaign calls for generational renewal in the farming sector to be a priority of the future Common Agricultural Policy, in order to secure Europe’s future, food, and farmers. As CAP negotiations are heating up alongside escalating budget concerns, CEJA believes it is essential that the issue of the age crisis in farming is addressed by decision-makers in this reform. The campaign website launched today is www.futurefoodfarmers.eu.
The ‘Future...Food...Farmers’ campaign aims to raise awareness of the demographic crisis in the agricultural sector in Europe among decision-makers, stakeholders and the general public. Without a sustainable demography in the sector, there will be no sustainable future for the agriculture sector.
Today, only 6% of European farmers are under the age of 35, while one third are over 65. As the CAP reform is being discussed for the period 2014-2020, this campaign stresses that generational renewal and support for young farmers to facilitate access to the profession must be a priority. 2020 will be too late.
The campaign takes the form of a pledge to sign. Who should sign it? All stakeholders in the food and forestry sector, consumers, politicians, sectorial associations and the general public – this is an issue which affects all policy areas and all European citizens.
A number of personalities have already given their support to the cause. Amongst them, Commissioners Cioloş, for Agriculture and Rural Development, Commissioner Lewandowski for Budget, Commissioner Potočnik for Environment, Chairman of COMAGRI Paolo De Castro, Members of European Parliament Luis Manuel Capoulas Santos, Michel Dantin, Mairead McGuinness, George Lyon, Herbert Dorfmann, Pekka Pesonen representing Copa-Cogeca, Mella Frewen representing FoodDrinkEurope, Staffan Nilsson as President of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) as well as Mario Campli, President of the Agriculture Section of the EESC, among other European Personalities. You can watch their video testimonials of support on the website www.futurefoodfarmers.eu.
The conclusion of the campaign will be the presentation of the signatories to the CAP trilogue in 2013, represented by Commissioner Dacian Cioloş, Chairman of the Farm Council Simon Coveney and Chair of COMAGRI Paolo De Castro.
Commenting on the campaign, Joris Baecke, President of CEJA, stated that: “It is crucial that we get the message across. World Food Day is a stark reminder of an ominous future: if Europe is running out of farmers that means our food security in the long-term is at stake. We need to facilitate the access of young people to the sector, for the benefit of the young people, for the benefit of the sector, and most importantly, for the benefit of future sustainable food production across Europe.”
Joris Baecke, President of the European Council of Young Farmers (CEJA), took part in a debate earlier today in Brussels at the European Food Security Conference. Speaking on the subject of “Financing Europe’s Food Supply – The Future of the CAP Post-2013”, Mr Baecke repeatedly underlined the importance of a ‘Common Installation Policy’ and the need for an environmentally-sustainable future for European agriculture in order for the sector to address growing food demands.
The CEJA President was accompanied on the debate panel by shadow rapporteur MEP Mairead McGuinness and DEFRA’s Martin Nesbit, among others. The inaugural conference also featured interventions from CAP Rapporteur Luis Manuel Capoulas Santos and the Cypriot Permanent Secretary for Agriculture, Egly Pantelakis. Drawing on recent examples of growing global food demands alongside a decreasing rate of the age of farmers, Mr Baecke outlined the young farmers’ measures included both in the Commission’s proposals and MEP Capoulas Santos’ Reports – many of these measures are strongly supported by CEJA, although he also made it clear that more could be done.
In particular, the CEJA President called upon the European Parliament and Council to support both the Commission and rapporteur in terms of the mandatory nature of the young farmer annual top-up in Pillar I of the CAP, stating that “it is crucial [the top-up] stays mandatory to guarantee equal treatment of young farmers across the EU”. Mr Baecke also detailed the importance of research and innovation in agriculture to address food security concerns, pointing out that the younger generation is best-placed to achieve developments in this, particularly in terms of greening European agriculture. On this subject, Joris Baecke concluded that "European young farmers have the responsibility to make agriculture sustainable for the future - to produce better, and more, with less."
You can download Joris Baecke's speech on our speeches page.
Addressing Members of the European Parliament during a lunch co-organised by MEP Elisabeth Köstinger and CEJA on 18 September 2012 in Brussels, CEJA President Joris Baecke called on MEPs to support the mandatory top-up in Pillar I as well as an ambitious package for installation aid in Pillar II. Urging the co-legislator to take on its responsibilities for the CAP reform, he stressed that the measures for young farmers put forward in the Commission proposals and endorsed in MEP Capoulas Santos’ draft reports are achievable, and that any alternative which undermines them are unacceptable in view of the gravity of the current age crisis.
Speaking to more than 30 Members of European Parliament attending a lunch on 18 September during which MEPs had the opportunity to exchange their views on the CAP reform with delegations of young farmers from all over the EU, Joris Baecke insisted on the importance of major elements of the proposed measures for young farmers and called on MEPs to support them in view of compromise amendment negotiations. Specifically, Mr Baecke focused on the mandatory aspect of the top-up, corresponding to at least 2% of the national envelope, as well as the higher ratio of co-financing proposed for the young farmer sub-programme in the second pillar, representing a minimum of 5% of total EAFRD budget.
Earlier in the morning, CEJA Vice-President Rok Sedminek also addressed the Young Meat Committee (YEMCO) of European Livestock and Meat Trading Union. Echoing the concern of the meat sector on the lack of generational renewal, he insisted that the current proposals for young farmers’ measures are a first step in the right direction, giving a clear signal to the new and future generations of farmers.
Highlighting the need for a ‘Common Installation Policy’ to accompany a new Common Agricultural Policy, Mr Sedminek ended his speech with a call to arms for the largely farming audience: “Now is the time to turn words into action. We need strong, effective measures to ensure generational renewal in European agriculture before it is too late.”
You can download both draft speeches on our speeches page.
Sunday the 16th of September saw the 2012 edition of the annual No-Car Day in Brussels. To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the CAP, the Commission’s DG AGRI organised “Bruxelles Champetre” in the heart of the city – the Royal Park. Featuring a number of animations and booths by agricultural stakeholders such as CEJA, as well as a city farm organised by CEJA member organisation FJA, the event saw thousands of visitors from all over the country take part in the celebration.
The young farmer booth at the event was manned by CEJA staff and representatives including two Irish farmers from Macra na Feirme, who hosted exchanges with the Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dacian Cioloş, and members of the general public alike on the subject of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The event also featured a presentation from the Irish CEJA representatives Bryan Daniels and John Joyce, on the subject of water conservation in agriculture and young farmers’ measures in the CAP reform.
During his part of the presentation, John Joyce highlighted the issues young people are faced with when attempting to enter the sector in Ireland, focusing on the importance of “better access to land and capital, which are the most substantial barriers to entry to farming, not just in Ireland but across Europe”.
Speaking after the event, Bryan Daniels praised the thinking behind the celebration, stating that “events like this are crucial for public support of farmers – as the CAP is such an important policy, the general public should be a part of the debate, and understand the most crucial issues. Time and time again, people are shocked by the dwindling numbers of European young farmers, and surprised by how little they were aware of the fact.”
You can download Bryan and John's presentation here.
Addressing all 27 EU Ministers for Agriculture, young farmer representative Joris Baecke urged the Council to adopt and strengthen proposed measures for young farmers in the future CAP. The continuation of the downward trend in the access of young people to the farming sector is too dramatic to leave this issue unanswered. Noting in particular the need for increased food production in future alongside increasing demands of environmental standards, Mr Baecke questioned the relevance of efforts to secure environmental and economic sustainability without accompanying measures for strong demographic sustainability in the sector.
The Cypriot Informal Farm Council took place in Nicosia in Cyprus from 9 to 11 September 2012. The meeting revolved around the Cypriot Presidency’s theme of: “Conserving Europe’s potential for the production of food, renewables and public goods: addressing water scarcity and land abandonment linked to adverse climatic conditions”. Highlighting the importance of generational renewal to ensuring food security and avoiding land abandonment, as well as the contribution to increased environmental sustainability likely to be made by young, educated and innovative farmers, Mr Baecke stressed how crucial the young farmers’ measures in the CAP proposals are, and how much support they need.
Outlining these measures, Mr Baecke stated: “ We need a Common Installation Policy alongside a Common Agriculture Policy, and I want to emphasize the word ‘common’. The European Union is facing a collective problem which needs a collective solution”. The CEJA President outlined his support for a mandatory top-up for young farmers in the first pillar of the CAP as a necessary effective measure to revive generational renewal in European agriculture. Mr Baecke ended the speech with an appeal to European leaders to heed his words, stating that “the future of European food production is in [their] hands” and that “it is the scarce resource of generational renewal in European farming that is in need of the most urgent protection”.
You can read Joris' speech in full here
Eric Driver, delegate from CEJA’s Irish member organisation Macra na Feirme, had the opportunity to make a presentation on young farmers and food security in today’s European Commission conference entitled “The CAP Towards 2020 – Taking Stock with Civil Society” in Brussels, Belgium.
The high-level, invitation-only conference featured a number of important speakers, including Commissioner Dacian Cioloş and Cypriot Minister for Agriculture and current President of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council Sofoclis Aletraris, who opened the conference with a plenary session. This was followed by a choice to attend one of three workshops featuring a variety of speakers, from Director Generals to agricultural professors and heads of unit. CEJA was represented in Workshop A on the topic of Food Security, by a young Irish farmer, Eric Driver.
Mr Driver focused his presentation on the need for young farmers to be equipped with the right policy measures and tools in order for them to help secure European and global food security, particularly calling for positive regulation for young farmers in the CAP’s key areas. Statistics have recently been published demonstrating that there are more farmers over the age of 80 in Ireland than under the age of 35 – a shocking indicator of the gravity of the current situation.
In this context, Driver outlined CEJA’s position on young farmers requiring access to national reserves, crisis management tools, the continuation of the sugar quota regime with the possibility for Member states out of the system to be able to re-enter it. , Driver echoed the long-standing CEJA position on young farmers’ measures in the CAP while calling for a comprehensive start-up package for young people attempting to enter the sector. Concluding his presentation, Eric Driver stated that “we as active farmers alongside the European authorities […] must ensure that this important [CAP] budget is being sent directly to the farmer in the field, producing the food for tomorrow.”
You can download Eric Driver's presentation here.
Earlier today, at the last ‘olive and derived products’ Advisory Group meeting before the summer, the Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dacian Cioloş, presented his action plan on the subject to the participating experts and observers. In response, Clelia Cini, CEJA representative, was given the opportunity to explain the CEJA position on olives and derived products.
Clelia Cini from Italian young farmer organisation AGIA, accompanied by observer Juan Luis Avila from the Spanish young farmers, COAG, detailed the CEJA position on market organisation to the other participants of the meeting, including Commissioner Cioloş. Highlighting the importance of long-term perspectives and accurate information for young farmers, Clelia Cini underlined in particular the need for a new reference price for olive oil as well as a faster private storage system in the sector. She also added that “reinforcing producers’ organisations by making them competent in the fields of price negotiation and marketing should be essential priorities for the olive oil sector”.
On the broader issues of market organisation and the European Commission’s Single Common Market Organisation (CMO) proposals, Cini explained the elements that are essential in order to contribute to much-needed generational renewal in the sector: “Young farmers face ever increasing levels of investments and are exposed to several risks. They need predictability in order to be able to ensure a sustainable development of their business. Markets cannot offer this long term perspective themselves in the way they work now. CEJA believes that an effective safety net should be introduced in the CAP post-2013 to promptly and effectively face crisis situations, including the significant price volatility of agricultural products, which has adverse effects on farmers’ incomes.”
Vice-President of the Belgian-Flemish young farmers Groene Kring, Lucas van Dessel, represented CEJA at today’s European Parliament Intergroup for Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development. Chaired by Rapporteur Capoulas Santos MEP, the Intergroup focused on the subject of “Shaping the Future CAP”. Mr Van Dessel seized the opportunity to reinforce the importance of support for the young farmers’ measures in both pillars of the CAP.
This event followed the presentation of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reports on the Single CMO, Direct Payments and Rural Development in this week’s European Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development. The Intergroup brought together all three of the CAP rapporteurs in order to have an exchange of views between them, alongside head of Commissioner Cioloş’ Cabinet Georg Hausler.
The Groene Kring Vice-President stressed the importance of maintaining the mandatory nature of the young farmer top-up in the CAP’s first pillar, as well as the higher co-financing ratio in the young farmer sub-programme in Pillar II. He also welcomed the additional help proposed for young farmers by rapporteur Capoulas Santos, such as a state guarantee providing easier access to land for new entrants. Highlighting CEJA’s position on Greening of the first pillar, Lucas Van Dessel detailed a longer list of proposed measures to replace the Commission’s limited selection of three. He also seized this opportunity to accentuate the important role of young farmers in achieving a transition towards a greener economy. Mr Van Dessel ended his intervention by insisting that “a Common Installation Policy is now required to bring the Common Agricultural Policy into the 21st Century and keep the sector strong. We need a robust, collective approach in the face of a collective problem in order to revive generational renewal in European agriculture, and ensure agricultural sustainability in future.”
Read the speech on our speeches page.
Earlier today, MEP Luis Manuel Capoulas Santos, European Parliament Rapporteur on Direct Payments and Rural Development proposals for the post-2014 CAP, presented both his Reports at the EP Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (COMAGRI) meeting. The Rapporteur has stood by his commitments to generational renewal in European agriculture by supporting both the mandatory aspect of the young farmer top-up in Pillar I of the new CAP and the higher co-financing ratio and improved measures for the Pillar II sub-pogramme including young farmers.
In the European Commission’s legislative proposals on the new CAP, it was proposed that direct payments should be better-targeted, including specifically to young farmers through an annual top-up of direct payments representing up to 2% of the national envelope for the first five years after installation. MEP Capoulas Santos has advocated his support for this measure as well as the possibility for Member States to increase this percentage if they wish to, provided they inform the Commission. CEJA also welcomes the increased flexibility proposed by the Rapporteur on the average national farm size criteria.
Mr Capoulas Santos has also shown support for the young farmers sub-programme in Pillar II, proposing installation aid for all young farmers and increasing the co-financing ratio of the measure to 80%-20%. The Parliamentary Rapporteur, in addition to his support of the Commission’s proposals, has also proposed a new measure in the form of bank guarantees for land loans to be available exclusively to young farmers at favourable interest rates.
These measures, combined, constitute an EU-wide Common Installation Policy to underpin the Common Agricultural Policy. Commenting on Mr Capoulas Santos’ Reports, Joris Baecke, President of CEJA, stated that: “If we are to keep producing locally-grown, high-quality food for European citizens then generational renewal in the sector must be secured and the downward trend in young farmer numbers must be reversed. That is why it is crucial that the top-up in Pillar I stays mandatory for all Member States, just as the co-financing ratio in Pillar II stays favourable: the future of the Common Agriculture Policy is dependent on an effective Common Installation Policy. Today’s reports have given the European Parliament an opportunity to back important measures to promote generational renewal in the sector, and the young farmers of Europe are counting on other MEPs to mirror Mr Capoulas Santos’ support for measures to enhance demographic sustainability as well as to encourage Member States to endorse such a crucial policy for generational renewal in European agriculture.”
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil / Brussels, Belgium
President of CEJA, Joris Baecke, is attending the Agriculture and Rural Development Day (ARDD) at the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil today, the 18 June 2012. He will also be speaking in the Learning Event on Rural Advisory Services, with a focus on services for young farmers.
The Agriculture and Rural Development Day (ARDD), organised by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), will feature interventions from speakers such as the President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Brazilian Environment Minister on the question of the ability of agriculture to address the ‘Rio+20 Challenges’ in future. In the afternoon, the Day will turn to a focus on food security, featuring speakers such as the Executive Secretary of the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR) and will end in a Synthesis of the day made by Ann Tutwiler, the deputy Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO). The event will be web-streamed live on the website www.agricultureday.org.
ARDD 2012, held alongside the Rio+20 Conference, promises to have more impact than ever and “represents a new opportunity to put agriculture at the heart of sustainable development policies” according to the organisers. Mr Baecke will be speaking in one of the Learning Events included in ARDD 2012, addressing the question of “how can the potential of rural advisory services be mobilized?” He will emphasise the need for young farmer advisory services, as well as the importance of exchanging best practices between young farmers, drawing on ‘Climate Farmers’ – a successful CEJA project which focused on sharing “Good Farming Practices for Climate Mitigation”. Speaking in Rio de Janeiro earlier today, Joris Baecke stated that “agriculture across the world will face significant trials in the future. However, young farmers have been proven to be more productive, innovative and efficient than their older counterparts. If we are looking to agricultural research to provide solutions for global challenges, then young farmers must be helped, encouraged and assisted in their efforts across the world. Rural advisory systems in particular represent a crucial part of the potential solution.”
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil / Brussels, Belgium
RIO+20, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, is taking place in Rio da Janeiro, Brazil, from the 13th to the 22nd of June 2012. Focusing on poverty reduction through the development of ‘the green economy’, the conference will attempt to find political answers to global problems, including in the promotion of sustainable agriculture, a subject CEJA is keen to advocate.
CEJA President, Joris Baecke, will be attending a number of events from the 14th to the 19th of June, including the agricultural day on the 18th. This Rio conference is an opportunity for CEJA to network with other NGOs, civil society representatives and governments from across the world, and advocate the need for generational renewal in agriculture the world over. The agricultural sector must be promoted to younger generations across the globe in order to achieve food security and the move towards a ‘green economy’. It is essential that the objective of sustainable development is also seen in the context of demographic sustainability, as well as all-important economic and environmental sustainability. In CEJA’s view, these three elements of sustainability are interlinked and therefore must all be focused on and strengthened simultaneously in order to achieve progress in sustainable development.
CEJA, as an associate member of the World Farmers’ Organisation (WFO), is being represented by Mr Baecke in the WFO delegation in Rio, and will attend major conferences alongside side-events on the subject of sustainable development in agriculture over the coming days. On his arrival at the conference, the CEJA President clarified the importance of the event, stating that “the need to promote agriculture to the world’s younger generations is evident, as well as the value of this for future global growth and sustainability. This conference represents a prime opportunity for CEJA to raise awareness of the issue and advocate generational renewal as an essential part of a necessary move towards international food security and agricultural sustainability.”
On the subject of sustainable development, Mr Baecke added that “European Young farmers have concrete examples of how to make agriculture more sustainable and I look forward to sharing and discussing them with my international counterparts during this important Conference. In 20 years, I hope to look back on the substantial achievements of Global agriculture and see increased food security and food quality, lower inputs and easier access to the sector for young farmers.”
The WFO General Assembly is taking place in Rome, Italy from the 6th to the 9th of June 2012. As an associate member of the recently created World Famers’ Organisation, CEJA is attending the event representing European young farmers.
The meeting will touch upon an array of crucial agricultural subjects, including the future of agriculture, food security and new agricultural challenges such as climate change, alongside discussions focusing on internal issues, policies and objectives for the future.
CEJA believes that the representation of young farmers from regions all over the world is essential to the legitimacy and well-functioning of the organisation. It is therefore vital that young farmer organisations have favourable membership rates in order to be part of the WFO as associate members. Promoting young generations in agriculture is a priority across the globe and should be reflected in the WFO structure.
President of CEJA, Joris Baecke, as well as Vice-Presidents Laurent Frantz and Ingrid Petterson are attending the meeting on behalf of the two million European young farmers CEJA represents. Mr Baecke, speaking in Rome on the 6th of June, stated that: “Young farmers are an essential part of such a representative, international organisation. This gives us the opportunity to share our vision of the future with farmers from across the globe. We are committed to taking active participation in the WFO and look forward to meeting young farmer colleagues from other regions of the world”.
Joris Baecke, President of the European Council of Young Farmers (CEJA), addressed the Informal Agricultural Council in Horsens, Denmark, earlier today. Joris Baecke urged the 27 Member States to endorse proposed measures for young farmers in both Pillars of the CAP as evidence of their commitment to young farmers and to the future of European agriculture.
The Informal Meeting of Ministers of Agriculture focused on the transition to a green economy. Pointing out that the Danish Presidency missed the opportunity to state that young farmers are the “frontrunners” of a greener economy, Joris Baecke called on the Member States to endorse mandatory top-up payments for young farmers in the first pillar of the CAP, alongside strengthened measures for installation aid in the second pillar, to guarantee that the frontrunners of the future will be able to get through the farm gates.
The CEJA President stressed that a mandatory top up in the first pillar, which should represent at least 2% of the national envelope, would constitute a strong signal of inter-generational solidarity. Mr Baecke continued by stating that “the economic and environmental sustainability of the Common Agricultural Policy cannot be achieved without demographic sustainability”. Finally, he called upon the Council to endorse the combination of measures for young farmers to be implemented in the upcoming reform, “to make European agriculture stronger”.
You can download Joris Baecke's speech here.
In January 2012, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dacian Cioloş, set up a high level group on wine in order to assess proposals to end the current planting rights system by 2015. In response to this, the European Council of Young Farmers have published their position on the matter and call for the maintenance of all wine planting rights until a later date with priority access to the system for young farmers. Wine planting rights without priority access are currently an additional barrier to installation for young people attempting to enter the sector – CEJA considers this unacceptable in view of the current demographic crisis in European agriculture.
The wine sector is a particularly attractive one for young farmers and CEJA’s main concern with the proposals to end the current system is the danger that the retail sector may be able to control the production of wine in Europe after its liberalisation. Calling for a comprehensive impact assessment on the issue by 2018, CEJA also demands assessment on other potential supply tools for the sector and the full impact that the abolishment of planting rights could have on wine producers, including young farmers.
The importance of Origin Labelling in the wine sector was also underlined, with young farmers insisting that this is essential for the reputation and future of European wine, and that its market management system should be enhanced.
CEJA awaits the results of the impact assessment in order to make further comment on the future of wine planting rights in Europe.
You can read the full position here.
More than 60 young farmers from over 23 EU Member States met in Brussels on 7 and 8 May for the European Council of Young Farmer’s annual General Assembly. After discussing internal issues throughout Monday afternoon, Tuesday morning was spent debating young farmers’ measures in both Pillars of the CAP reform with informative contributions from the European Court of Auditors and MEPs McGuinness and Köstinger.
M. Cretin, Member of the European Court of Auditors, accompanied by M. Pauwels, presented the Court’s opinion on four draft CAP regulations, including on young farmers’ measures. The Court considers that “the additional direct payment to young farmers will assist them in dealing with their specific circumstances” and that payment entitlements to be available to new farmers in 2014 (in particular young farmers who are beginning their agricultural activity) should “encourage innovative and dynamic farming businesses”. Following this, Elisabeth Köstinger MEP highlighted the importance of rural development to the CAP reform, stating that the “future CAP programs have to focus on the establishment of farms and the need to invest in innovation and skills. Agriculture is a driving force for rural areas and is crucial to promote jobs and growth across Europe”.
Concluding the presentations, Mairead McGuinness said that as a Member of the European Parliament she was “committed to tackling the problem of generational renewal in agriculture", and "believes that the measures proposed in CAP reform under Pillar I must be mandatory for Member States if we are serious about addressing the low number of young farmers". McGuinness also seized the opportunity of the CEJA General Assembly to urge young farmers to maintain the pressure on their own Ministers for agriculture and elected representatives throughout the reform process in order to ensure that appropriate measures are part of the final CAP reform agreement.
These thoughts were echoed by CEJA members and President Joris Baecke, who summed up the meeting by stating that “all who strive for a sustainable agricultural sector must now support the proposed measures, so as to ensure that there will be enough farmers to deliver the objectives Europe needs for the future."
The European Court of Auditors’ (ECA) “Opinion (No 1/2012) on certain proposals for regulations relating to the common agricultural policy for the period 2014-2020”, adopted on 8 March 2012 and published on the ECA website yesterday, highlights several issues within the Commission’s CAP proposals. These include a lack of simplification of the policy as well as a lack of explanation of its objectives, but the ECA also incorporated a specific chapter on young farmers measures (p. 41: Young farmers).
The ECA particularly welcomed the change to prioritising the allocation of entitlements from national reserves to young farmers starting their agricultural activity, addressing worries that these could become additional barriers to entry. These were concerns raised by the Court itself in its SPS report last year. The Court also welcomed the top-up measure in Pillar I, stating that it may “encourage young farmers to start up innovative and dynamic farming businesses” – a position which is shared by the European Council of Young Farmers. Finally, the Court included a note on the national reserve year, echoing calls from President of CEJA, Joris Baecke, that the reference year of 2011 for entitlements is likely to create “new barriers to entry for new farmers”.
Joris Baecke said of the young farmers chapter in the Opinion: “The Court shares our concerns relating to the problematic reference year of 2011 for new entrants, as well as our view that young farmers should consistently be given priority in terms of entitlements from national reserves in future. Now, we call on the Council and Parliament to take this into account, and to improve the Commission’s proposals by avoiding this particular potential barrier to entry for future farmers.”
CEJA and MEP Milan Zver hosted a roundtable event in the European Parliament today entitled “Sowing the Seeds to Harvest in Future: Supporting Young People into Farming” on the subject of generational renewal in European agriculture and young farmers measures in the CAP reform. Bringing together representatives from all three EU institutions, including a video message from Farm Commissioner Dacian Cioloş, interventions from MEPs Dess and Dantin and Jesper W. Pedersen, Chairman of the SCA, there was broad consensus on the issue of the lack of generational renewal in European agriculture and the need for substantial measures to be taken to change this.
Attended by over 150 people, including MEPs, agri-attaches, journalists and young farmers from across Europe, the roundtable was hailed a success by co-organiser MEP Milan Zver, who said of the event: “Our objective was reached. We wanted to make sure more people knew about the lack of young people in the sector and that there are solutions to remedy this problem. That is what we achieved. The CAP reform is now in the Parliament’s hands, and it is up to us to make sure that the measures included on young farmers in the Commission’s proposals are secured and improved.” Followed by a press conference, this event attracted significant attention from agri representatives across the sector, and President of CEJA, Joris Baecke used this opportunity to urge all three institutions to prioritise generational renewal in the CAP reform. Mr Baecke, speaking directly to the institutions, stated that “The future of agriculture is in your hands. We cannot wait another five years for these crucial measures, or there won’t be any European farmers left for the CAP to cover. We have highlighted the importance of the problem and proposed the appropriate solution: you must now ensure that this reform opportunity is not missed, so as to secure a competitive, productive and sustainable future for European agriculture.”
At a Working Group meeting in Rome on 22 March 2012, CEJA adopted its positions on the Commission’s proposals for Market Management Measures and Rural Development. Calling for improvements to both proposals for the coming CAP reform, CEJA highlighted the importance of long term perspectives and accurate market information for young farmers, as well as a robust link to agriculture from the Rural Development programme.
CEJA concerns on the market management measures package included demands for a clearer definition of the term ‘crisis’ by the Commission, along with specific triggering criteria for the implementation of crisis management instruments, to ensure their swift and effective application in order to prevent crises as much as possible, and act effectively when they occur. Other particular issues include a new reference price for olive oil alongside a faster private storage system in this sector, and a boost for the Commission’s plans for support for producers’ organisations. On the sugar sector, CEJA judges ending the quota system by 2015 to be too soon, but calls on the EU to make it possible for farmers to reintegrate into the system if they so wish.
On Rural Development, CEJA urges decision-makers to ensure a strong and direct link with agriculture. CEJA applauds the proposals for higher aid intensities for installation aid for young farmers and asks for the intensity rate to be made mandatory for the young farmers sub-programme. Emphasising the problem of lack of generational renewal in the sector, CEJA calls for young farmers to be considered a priority across all Rural Development measures. Finally, CEJA also calls for measures to support intergenerational cooperation and collective initiatives which aim to improve the bargaining power of farmers.
CEJA considers that these improvements will be essential for the competitiveness and productivity of young farmers, considering young farmers are the most exposed to price volatility and need a considerable increase in support, and therefore implores the Parliament and Council to take the CEJA position into account.
Please find the finalised CEJA position papers here.
Last week, CEJA President Joris Baecke spoke in a European Economic and Social Committee Conference on the subject of ‘Young farmers in the world and in the future’. Underlining the importance of young farmers to the future of European agriculture, Mr Baecke highlighted the significance of research and innovation in relation to greening and food security measures, and the need to have farmers to implement them.
The Conference, entitled “The Common Agricultural Policy… 50 years – and a lifetime ahead” took place at the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) in Brussels, Belgium. Speaking in the panel ‘Agriculture 50 years from now’, the President of CEJA emphasised the importance of young farmers to a variety of issues, most importantly the need for generational renewal in European agriculture to ensure an environmentally, economically and demographically sustainable future for the sector. President of the EESC, Staffan Nilsson, echoed this position, calling for measures to make the sector more attractive to new generations.
Commenting on the young farmers’ measures in the CAP, Mr Baecke stated that “The proposals, including the measures for young farmers, are a good starting point for discussion. However, they do not go far enough – the lack of generational renewal in European agriculture should not be taken lightly. We must act now to ensure a future for high quality agricultural products produced in a responsible and sustainable way in Europe.”
You can download Mr Baecke's full speech here.
The Conference, entitled “The new CAP: the right path to sustainable farming?”, was organised by the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) alongside Birdlife, a global alliance of conservation organisations. Opened by Danish Minister for Agriculture Mette Gjerskov, it focused on the role the Danish Presidency will be playing in the discussions on the legislative process of the coming CAP reform, particularly in relation to Greening measures. President Baecke spoke in the afternoon panel, taking part in the debate on “What will crop diversification, ecological focus areas and protection of permanent pastures bring for biodiversity, soil, water and climate?”
Outlining the European Council of Young Farmers’ position on the proposals to green the direct payments in the first pillar of the CAP, he called for a longer list of potential greening measures for farms to choose from, including
- Use of precision farming techniques including improving water and soil management
- Leguminous- based systems
- Farm energy- efficiency measures
- Green cover
- Buffer strips
- Permanent cultures
- Ecological features
- Crop rotation
- Permanent pasture linked to animal production.
On the subject of the essential contribution young farmers can make to a more environmentally sustainable future for European agriculture, the CEJA President stated that “Young farmers are crucial to this discussion, and we will be relying on them to implement important environmental protection and climate change mitigation measures.” Mr Baecke closed his statement by highlighting the fact that “Young farmers are committed to their duty to European society, not only by continuing to provide high quality, competitive food production, but also by doing it in a sustainable and responsible way”.
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.”
The members of the Parliamentary Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development today elected their chairs and vice-chairs for the next two and a half years. CEJA would like to extend our congratulations to Paolo DE CASTRO MEP on his election as chair of the committee and we are looking forward to continuing our significant collaboration with de Castro, the vice-chairs, and the rest of the members of COMAGRI, over the next two and a half years.
However, at this hugely important time for the future of European agriculture considering the coming CAP reform, CEJA also takes this opportunity to call on COMAGRI to prioritise young farmers over the course of their mandate as chairs and vice-chairs of the committee, to ensure more effective and suitable measures to temper the growing age crisis in the sector. We are at a tipping point in terms of a lack of generational renewal, and support from the European Parliament on this issue over the next two years will prove to be indispensable for the long-term future of European agriculture.
CEJA would also like to congratulate Czesław Adam SIEKIERSKI, José BOVÉ, Janusz WOJCIECHOWSKI and Marit PAULSEN on their election as vice-chairs of COMAGRI – we look forward to collaborating with them on ensuring the survival of the agricultural sector we are all so invested in.
CEJA is pleased to see that the Council and Parliament reached a balanced agreement on the ‘dairy package’ on December 6, 2011.
Joris Baecke, President of CEJA, stated that "the Council and Parliament have proved that the co-decision process within the Lisbon Treaty has become a reality and is working in practice. The negotiations resulted in a balanced agreement. This is a good sign, especially in the context of the discussions on the future CAP, and the strict calendar for reaching an agreement on a new CAP starting on the 1st January 2014".
CEJA welcomes the direction of strengthening producers' organisations in the dairy sector and the provision whereby the volume that a PO can negotiate represents up to 33% of the national production of the Member States involved. Initiatives to strengthen the position of farmers in the food chain should be encouraged. Farmers who are not part of a cooperative will still be able to join forces in a producer organisation and benefit from tools to better promote their role in the food chain.
Baecke further stressed that "discussions need to continue however on the definition of the relevant market. This notion is key and will be determinant to make the reform in the dairy market a success".
Speaking today at a conference organized at the European Parliament at the initiative of the Polish Presidency on the future CAP, CEJA President Joris Baecke called on decision-makers to endorse a strong CAP investing in farmers of the future.
President Baecke stressed the great challenge and possible threat for European Agriculture, caused by rural exodus, a rapidly ageing population and lack of young people entering the sector. Baecke stated “Agriculture is all about investing in the future. He added ‘European agriculture is in an age crises, and it is just the tip of the ice-berg”. The CAP has to strongly invest in the farmers of the future. We need to act now” to correct the demographic unbalances.
Joris Baecke acknowledged the right direction taken in the legislative proposal to prioritize renewal of generation in both first and second pillar of the CAP. Joris Baecke however called for improvement of the proposals, in particular for the full 2% of the national envelope in the first pillar to be used. He called for flexibility to be given to Member States on implementation, provided that minimum 2% is fully used. Regarding 2011 as the reference year to apply for entitlements from 2014 onwards, Joris Baecke stressed that this provision should not create a barrier to apply for entitlements for young farmers in the future. On second pillar, he welcomed the proposal in the legislative proposal for a preferential ratio of co-financing.
“Looking towards the future, next to the great urgency for generational renewal, there is a continuous need for a sustainable agriculture production”, CEJA President continued. While supporting the greening of the first pillar, he noted that CEJA believes that it should be an opt-in option for farmers. “To reach the strongest commitment from the farming community and achieve the best result, greening should be done on a voluntary basis”, Baecke stated.
In addition, the three measures put forward do neither answer environmental challenge nor the diversity of European diversity. Instead CEJA calls for a ‘wider menu’ of measures to be made available, meeting both the request to increase biodiversity and mitigating climate change and the request for productivity and competitiveness. President Baecke instead listed a menu including precision farming technics, improving water and soil management and farm energy efficiency measures could help manage the needs of the future. “Any fixed percentage of ecological focus area at farm level is counterproductive and not answering the real sustainability challenge. It will in many cases lead to a plain set-aside and this is absolutely not in line with the greater demand of food”.
CEJA, the European Council of Young Farmers, welcomes the measures for young farmers included in both Pillars of the proposed CAP package, presented today by Commissioner Dacian Cioloş. CEJA gladly notes that generational renewal in agriculture is considered a priority and that the proposed package acknowledges that the EU needs to take appropriate measures to answer the special needs of young farmers across Europe.
CEJA strongly calls on the European Parliament and Council to endorse and enforce the position adopted by the Commission.
On measures for young farmers in the first pillar:
CEJA welcomes the measures for young farmers in the first pillar, since the income of young farmers during the first five years of start-up is very sensitive to price volatility.
The 25% top up on the average value of payment entitlements held by young farmers for the first five years after installation is a good starting point for discussion. CEJA calls for the top up to represent a minimum of 2%, and up to 3%, of the national envelope. That percentage would cover the increasing applications coming from young farmers in the years after the reform.
Moreover, CEJA calls for the capping level for top up payments to be increased to 50 hectares. Young farmers tend to run larger farms than the average national farm size, and the threshold for the top up should reflect this.
In addition, if Member States do not fully use the minimum percentage of the national budget for the top, they should be able to either increase the number of hectares as a basis for the top up, or the percentage of the top up, in order to meet the minimum percentage of the national envelope.
On measures for young farmers in the second pillar:
It is of upmost importance for the competitiveness and sustainability of European agriculture that the number of installations is increased and the farm take-over process speeded up across the EU. CEJA therefore calls for a favorable ratio of co-financing of 80% coming from the EU and 20% from the national envelope.
Joris Baecke, President CEJA commented “Today’s proposed reform provides a real opportunity to attract young people into agriculture. I strongly call on the European Parliament and the European Council to improve the measures put forward in the proposal and to endorse them. Europe needs to invest in its Young Farmers”.
European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dacian Cioloş today formally opened the CEJA photo exhibition "Putting a face to food, know the farmer behind the product".
Speaking at the exhibition Commissioner Cioloş stated that “Young farmers are passionate about their job and the agriculture sector and this is well demonstrated by this photo exhibition. As Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, one of my priorities has been young farmers This priority is not just theoretical, but also concrete, as measures for young farmers in second pillar but also in first pillar of the CAP will be included in the legislative package.‟‟
CEJA President Joris Baecke stated that “This exhibition showcases the dynamism and motivation of European young farmers in the sector. We are proud and passionate about our profession and this is reflected in the photos. We also believe that the exhibition will draw the attention of the general public and decision-makers on the need to strongly support young entrepreneurs entering the sector, especially in the first years after installation”.
The photo exhibition is taking place in the Berlaymont Building from the 26th September to the 13th October, and will then continue its tour of the European Union throughout 2012.
The CEJA Young Farmers photo exhibition can be found here:
Past press releases:
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CEJA signed a partnership agreement with Rabobank on future collaboration - Read more in the joint press release here.