Media contact: Jessica Fitch
Latest press releases
On Monday 9 December 2013, CEJA, the European Council of Young Farmers, appointed Kleopatra Sidiropoulou as the new Secretary General of the organisation. With five years experience as policy officer in the European Commission’s Directorate General for Agriculture and Rural Development and over a year as policy advisor to MEP George Lyon, member of the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development in the European Parliament, Ms. Sidiropoulou is well-placed to continue the important work CEJA has already done for generational renewal in the European Union (EU)’s agricultural sector. Now managing an office of four in Brussels, Ms. Sidiropoulou will build on the policy achievements recently made in the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) alongside the recently-appointed new Presidency, elected earlier this year.
President Matteo Bartolini said of the appointment: “Considering Kleopatra’s extensive experience and network in the Brussels agricultural policy arena, I am convinced that together we will be able to continue to raise the profile of young farmers across Europe and shape the EU policy framework to support young people to enter the sector. I am delighted to have Kleopatra leading our team in Brussels and I very much looking forward to working closely with her on important issues, such as the implementation of the new CAP across EU Member States and the upcoming International Year of Family Farming 2014.”
On 14 November 2013, CEJA, the European Council of Young Farmers, held a working group on the subject of “Innovation in Agriculture: Young Farmers are the Future” at Agritechnica in Hannover, Germany – the biggest agricultural machinery fair in the world. The working group, attended by 50 young farmers from across Europe, followed an announcement made earlier on in the week launching a new partnership between CEJA and Massey Ferguson.
The working group kicked off with internal discussions on progress made by Member States in terms of implementation of young farmers’ measures in the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), particularly choices of calculation methods for the top-up of direct payments and installation aid levels in rural development. This was followed by a discussion on the subject of a proposed delegated act put forward by the European Commission which may prove problematic to the implementation of the top-up of direct payments for young farmers. A presentation from a Massey Ferguson delegation came next, including Thierry Lhotte, Vice-President of Sales and Marketing, on the future of farming. The working group concluded by putting this into context in terms of European Union (EU) policy with a presentation from a representative of the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) Service Point, Sergiu Didicescu.
The Massey Ferguson delegation hailed the newfound partnership as a big step forward for the two organisations, both of whom share a ‘passion for the future of farming’. The working group was followed by a celebratory cocktail and dinner combining CEJA and Massey Ferguson delegations. Speaking at the celebratory dinner, CEJA President Matteo Bartolini warmly welcomed the new partnership, stating that he was “delighted” with the agreement, certain that “together, CEJA and Massey Ferguson can achieve more for the future of agriculture than either of [them] can alone.”
On the same day, CEJA Vice-President Laurent Poirier was in Tanger, Morroco, speaking at the high-level Medays 2013 Conference on the food security panel. Mr Poirier presented CEJA’s advocacy of positive discrimination for young people entering the agricultural sector. This conference gave the young farmer representative a platform to address a global audience as well as several high-level decision makers from both within and further afield than the EU on the importance of targeted support for young farmers.
For more information on the new CEJA-Massey Ferguson partnership, you can find the joint press release here.
On 6 November 2013, the Animal Task Force held their annual seminar in Brussels on sustainable livestock production systems. The morning session focused on contributions from industry and featured CEJA Vice President Paola Del Castillo as the only farmer on the panel. As an organic beef producer from Southern Spain, Ms Del Castillo highlighted the importance of engaging with farmers on the discussion of future livestock production in Europe, particularly with young farmers.
Sustainability, intertwined with responsibility and profitability, arose as the core theme of the discussions between stakeholders and policy-makers on future livestock production. The CEJA Vice President’s presentation outlined many of the challenges faced by livestock producers particularly in terms of profitability. Considering the demands in terms of safety and standards weighing heavy on farmers in Europe, it is essential that innovative livestock production systems are presented to them in a beneficial manner, particularly in the context of international competitiveness. All contributors to the conference, including CEJA, agreed that research and funding for this must be prioritised in order to achieve increasingly sustainable livestock production systems in Europe.
Even more importantly, considering the age skew in the EU farming population – where only 6% of European farmers are under the age of 35 and one third are over 65 – it is crucial that the demographic crisis in the agricultural sector is tackled before anything else. Young farmers have proven themselves to be more productive, more technologically-aware and more sustainable on average than their older counterparts – this is crucial in order to reform livestock production systems, to modernise and innovate them with the help of research and development. Ms Del Castillo highlighted the importance to young farmers for this point, stating that: “The farming sector is an old one, making it difficult to achieve progress. It is essential to convince farmers of the profitability of new options in order to engage with them on this issue. Young farmers are particularly open-minded about this, and therefore must be prioritised in the debate.
On 29 October 2013, the President of the European Council of Young Farmers, Matteo Bartolini, addressed a high-level conference organised by the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) in Brussels, Belgium. The conference, entitled “From a grey deal to a green implementation of the future CAP?” focused on the rolling out of the greening measures and recommendations for biodiversity-friendly Rural Development policy post 2013. The CEJA President spoke on the panel focusing on the final Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) deal, and underlined the importance of young farmers in the environmental sustainability debate in agriculture.
Mr Bartolini’s intervention followed that of EEB’s senior policy officer Faustine Defossez and DG AGRI’s Pierre Bascou, and outlined the importance of young farmers in securing a more sustainable future for European agriculture. Considering that young farmers are better-educated, more technologically-aware and more innovative than their older peers, there is a clear need to invest in young farmers and encourage generational renewal in the sector in order to achieve a more environmentally-conscious one.
The CEJA President advocated the importance of support for young farmers in the environmental context, stating that: “We need sustainability across the European agricultural sector. Not just an environmentally and economically sustainable sector, but also a demographically sustainable one which can provide us with an agricultural model which can increasingly deliver safe, high quality food.” Mr Bartolini ended his speech by welcoming the final agreement on CAP reform and looking towards the future, including the greening measures, saying: “The income support which will be provided to farmers in this new CAP, targeting environment, innovation, research and development will ensure a more balanced agricultural policy among Member States in future.”
The interventions were followed by a lively debate with the moderator, Alan Matthews from Trinity College and the audience concerning the implementation of the CAP’s greening measures, particularly in terms of the ‘equivalence’ concept.
On 11 October 2013, the President of the European Council of Young Farmers, Matteo Bartolini, addressed a high-level side event at the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)’s Committee on World Food Security (CFS) conference. The side event, entitled “Investing in the Future of Farming” and featuring Italian Minister for Agriculture Nunzia De Girolamo, was co-organised by the World Farmers’ Organisation and CEJA. Mr Bartolini addressed the audience on the importance of increased public support for young farmers and young people attempting to enter the agricultural sector if we are to ensure global food security in the coming decades.
Speaking at the FAO Headquarters in Rome, Italy, the young farmer from Umbria and President of CEJA outlined the barriers to entry facing young farmers attempting to start out in the sector, which are common across the globe. These include access to land, capital and credit, low returns on high investments and a lack of long-term perspectives. These challenges are common to young people attempting to start a farm anywhere in the world, and should be addressed with the use of public support. This has been taken on board in the European Union (EU) recently with the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), but still requires strong and effective implementation. This also embodies the first strong signal sent in terms of public support, and should set an example to governments in other parts of the world. If we value family farming and agriculture as a whole and want it to survive, and if we want to secure the world’s food supply, young farmers are going to need public support to help them overcome the barriers that stand in their way and enable them to contribute to a more productive, innovative and sustainable system of agricultural production across the globe.
Mr Bartolini called upon governments to heed this message, stating that: “Public support for young farmers is essential if we are to ensure food security, safety and quality, and many other governments across the globe have a lot to learn from recent developments in the EU. It is time to listen, and take action, before it is too late, especially considering the topical relevance of the issue today. Next year is the International Year of Family Farming, an essential opportunity to raise awareness of the demographic issue in farming around the globe, and the importance of young farmers to continuing the revered family farming model and securing the future of global food production.”
CEJA is pleased to welcome the final agreement on the outstanding issues in the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) found in trilogue on Tuesday 24 September 2013. Considering the stability and security needed by farmers across Europe, CEJA would like to congratulate the European Parliament and the Agriculture Council on finding compromise on difficult issues in this swift manner. It is now essential that the Agriculture Committee in Parliament agrees on the dossiers in their vote next Monday, so that a plenary vote to adopt the texts can take place at the end of October. It is crucial that these texts are formally adopted by the end of 2013 by both Council and Parliament in order to give farmers an end to the uncertainty of the last three years.
Agreement on all the outstanding CAP issues, left unopened and in square brackets due to their inclusion in the Multi-Annual Financial Framework (MFF) dossier agreed upon by heads of state, has now been found. The spirit of compromise shown by both institutions has been key to finalising the text of the CAP dossiers, and ensuring that the bulk of the agreement found last June, including the strong measures for young farmers, was not put at any risk. CEJA calls on the institutions to keep the long-term perspectives needed by farmers, particularly young farmers, in mind and ensure that the texts are formally adopted by both institutions by the end of the year, in order for the new system of direct payments to come into force on 1 January 2015.
It is now up to the Member States to implement the agreed CAP appropriately. This is particularly important for measures for young farmers, as there has been substantial progress made on the support available for these since the last reform of the CAP. Speaking on the subject, CEJA President Matteo Bartolini stated that: “It is now crucial that Member States not only choose a favourable package of measures for young farmers under the Rural Development sub-programme available alongside installation aid of up to 70 000 euros per young farmer, particularly considering this is available at a favourably co-financed rate of up to 80/20, but is also important that they take the mandatory top-up of direct payments for young farmers seriously. Despite its mandatory nature, there is important flexibility available for Member States to ensure that they maximise the 2% of the national envelope available and guarantee that young farmers will get the best chance available to contribute to securing the future of European agriculture.”
On 24 June 2013, the European Commission held a full-day conference on “The EU Dairy Sector: Developing Beyond 2015”, in the context of the abolition of the milk quotas that year. 20 CEJA young farmers attended the conference from across the European Union (EU) in order to contribute to the important discussion on the future of the sector, particularly in the context of competitiveness on the international market.
The conference, set on a backdrop of concerns that the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will not be able to address issues related to the end of the milk quotas in 2015, focused on new ideas for additional policy tools to keep the future of the EU dairy sector sustainable. The conference was invite-only, and participants included a number of European producers as well as Ministers and senior ministry officials; Members of the European Parliament; and representatives from national permanent representations, industry, consumers and environmental groups. The Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dacian Cioloş, opened the conference with a speech focusing on the reasoning behind the conference and the importance of input from participants, stating that: “Things are now in your hands. I encourage you to come forward with analyses, questions and ideas which are pragmatic and realistic given the diversity of the European dairy sector.”
This was followed by detailed presentations from experts, presenting market data and projections for the next years of European dairy production, particularly in terms of the international market context. Participants were then divided into workshops to “brainstorm” suggestions to ensure territorial sustainability of the sector, to combat market volatility and to rebalance the food supply chain. During the concluding plenary session, CEJA Vice-President Paola Del Castillo spoke on the subject of attracting young farmers to the dairy sector, highlighting the fact that: “The future of the sector depends on young people; so the sector needs profitability, market transparency and improved access in order to attract young farmers.” Speaking after the conference, CEJA President Mr Bartolini added: “CEJA is committed to working with these ideas in order to develop concrete suggestions for the future to submit to the European Commission, in an attempt to further the work which has begun today. The dairy sector presents important opportunities for young farmers entering agriculture, and we must ensure that it has the future prospects to accommodate them.”
On 18 September 2013, CEJA President Matteo Bartolini addressed a high-level conference in Budapest, Hungary on the subject of “The New CAP – Evaluation and Impacts Expected by CEJA”, on the invitation of the Hungarian Minister for Rural Development, Dr Sandor Fazekas. Hailing the political agreement on CAP reform as a success for young farmers and the promotion of generational renewal in the EU’s farming population, Mr Bartolini was nonetheless cautious about the potential impact of these measures depending on Member States’ differing calculation methods and Rural Development Programmes.
The CEJA President’s intervention followed presentations by Jerzy Plewa, the Director General of the European Commission’s DG Agriculture and Rural Development, MEP Paolo De Castro, Chairman of the European Parliament’s Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development, and a welcome speech by the Hungarian Minister for Rural Development, Dr Fazekas. Mr Bartolini seized the opportunity of his speech to thank the Hungarian Minister for his support for CEJA and strong young farmers’ measures throughout the political negotiations on CAP reform, and hoped for a strong calculation method for the young farmer top-up in Hungary, considering how vocal the Minister was on this point before the political agreement was found on 26 June 2013.
However, although Mr Bartolini was optimistic about the implementation of CAP measures to support Hungarian young farmers, he was more cautious about other Member States, particularly those who did not support the mandatory nature of the young farmer top-up in the Council’s mandate during negotiations. On this point, the CEJA President was very clear on the importance implicated in maximising funds for young farmers, stating that: “All EU decision-makers, and many stakeholders, have acknowledged the need for strong support for young farmers in the last three years of CAP negotiations. We must ensure that these arguments are not lost, but reinforce the implementation of these measures. The Common installation policy framework now available in the CAP must succeed at achieving the objectives it was meant for: reversing the damaging demographic trend in EU agriculture and increasing the numbers of young people entering the sector and/or staying afloat in it.”
On 16 September 2013, CEJA co-organised a networking lunch in the European Parliament hosted by Chairman of the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development (COMAGRI) and MEP, Mr Paolo De Castro. This event gave the opportunity for young farmers from across the European Union (EU) to discuss the implementation of the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in their own Member States with their own MEPs – particularly the implementation of the measures agreed for young farmers. The event was opened by a video message from Mr De Castro, a speech from Italian MEP and Member of COMAGRI Hertbert Dorfmann and the CEJA President, Matteo Bartolini.
At this stage in the reform of the CAP, CEJA believes it is crucial for young farmers to network directly with their elected representatives at EU level. It is essential that the work done on securing strong measures for young farmers in the final CAP agreement of 26 June 2013 does not go to waste in any of the 28 Member States, but that the words in the final agreement become a reality. In Pillar I, it is important that the calculation method for the top-up of direct payments for young farmers maximises the 2% of the national envelope available – there are four methods available, and the best choice is likely to vary according to Member State. As national governments are currently working on programming Pillar II measures for the next seven years, it is also indispensable to ensure that Member States choose a strong package of measures available for the promotion of generational renewal in agriculture under rural development. It is for this reason that, in conjunction with the lunch event, CEJA is today holding a full-day Working Group meeting for young farmers’ leaders from across Europe on the implementation of the new CAP.
In his speech however, the CEJA President also wanted to underline the importance of finalising the ‘still-oustanding’ issues in the CAP agreement which are linked to the long-term EU budget deal in order to ensure that all the work that has been done, and in particular the strong measures included for young farmers, does not all unravel at the last minute. As well as this, it is crucial that MEPs work with the other EU institutions on finalising and adopting transition regulation for 2014 before the end of this year in order to provide visibility and security for farmers across Europe for the next 12 months and in particular to secure financial support for current young farmers’ measures. Opening the debate, Mr De Castro hailed the CAP reform as a success, stating that he was “[…] very happy that the final CAP agreement takes on board the CEJA proposal to have a mandatory system for young farmers in Europe. This was one of the goals of the Parliament.” He continued by underlining the importance of co-hosting such an event with CEJA, saying: “We need young farmers in Europe and we need CEJA.” Mr Dorfmann then followed suit, congratulating CEJA on the work carried out on CAP reform, stating: “The strong combination of measures now available in the new CAP to encourage generational renewal in the EU farming population gives Europe the opportunities and incentives to implement concrete measures for to help secure the future of European agriculture.”
Finally, Mr Bartolini echoed Mr De Castro’s warm words, but not without warning, stating that: “The long journey towards increased generational renewal in the European farming population has only just begun. Although there are now measures for young farmers available for Member States to use, and in fact one of them is mandatory for all – a huge success both for CEJA and the European Parliament – we need to ensure that young farmers get as much of the potential €800 million annually as possible. We must ensure that every single young farmer setting up for the first time in the EU gets the best deal possible out of this agreement.”
CEJA President Matteo Bartolini addressed Commissioner Cioloş, Agriculture Committee Chair Paolo De Castro MEP and all 28 EU farm ministers at the Informal Agriculture Council in Vilnius, Lithuania, on 10 September 2013. At this first Informal meeting of Ministers since the political consensus on the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) was reached on 26 June 2013, the CEJA President seized the opportunity to congratulate the Institutions on the strong measures for young farmers included in the agreement but also called on them to make the most of these by using the measures available in order to secure the European family-farming model. The funds for these, amounting to a potential €800 million across the EU annually under direct payments, should be maximised and made available to all new young farmers.
The theme of the Informal Council meeting was “Family farming prospects in the context of globalisation” – a particularly important topic of discussion in terms of generational renewal in the agricultural sector. To address the demographic problem in European farming, the EU institutions have agreed on a mandatory top-up of direct payments for young farmers in the first years after installation across the EU and the 80/20 co-financing ratio available for installation aid of up to €70 000 per young farmer under rural development in the new CAP. It is in this context that the CEJA President called upon ministers to make sure their words become reality by taking the issue just as seriously in the implementation of the new CAP as they did in the formulation of the regulation by maximising the funds available for the young farmer top-up under direct payments by choosing the best calculation method for their national situation and by using the co-financed installation aid available in Pillar II.
In its pre-meeting working document on Family Farming, the Lithuanian Presidency proposed a discussion question asking what young farmers’ measures could be envisaged in the context of supporting the long-term viability of family farms through succession. The CEJA President highlighted CEJA’s policy recommendations for “enhancing youth employment in agriculture for a more sustainable Europe” on the subject, published earlier this year, which underline the need for increased access to public support, vocational and educational training, and better access to land and credit for young farmers.
Mr Bartolini warned Ministers of the consequences of failing to deliver on this, stating that: “Eurostat’s latest figures published in July of this year depict European farmer numbers falling by a third over the last decade. This trend must be tempered before it is too late as young farmers are essential to the continuation of the family farming model. Young farmers expect these measures to materialise, in order for EU institutions and national governments to support them to deliver what they are best at: productivity, sustainability, and innovation in the EU agricultural sector. They are the future of farming.” However, the CEJA President also called on the institutions to finalise the CAP deal and its outstanding issues as soon as possible, in order for European farmers to have the visibility they need for the next programming period, and to prove that the institutions can work well together in order to deliver formal adoption of a final CAP deal through co-decision. It is also crucial that final agreement is found on the transition measures imminently, as time is running out and 2014 is only a few months away. This is particularly important to guarantee continued support and funding for young farmers’ measures for the year 2014.
You can find more information on CEJA’s policy recommendations on family farming here.
On 29 August 2013, CEJA President, Matteo Bartolini, opened the conference to a hundred young farmers from across Hungary, Slovakia and the rest of Europe in Tata, Hungary. The young farmer from Umbria, Italy, gave an overview of the content of the recently agreed Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform to the audience of young farmers, underlining the importance of the inclusion of a strong common installation policy in the new CAP, made-up of strong measures in both Pillars. Mr Bartolini then called upon the young farmers to contact their ministers about these issues, to ensure that they get the best deal they possibly can out of this monumental reform of the CAP.
Other speakers included agricultural experts, advisors, and representatives from both the Hungarian and Slovakian ministries, as well as both Presidents of the two national young farmer organisations; AGRYA in Hungary and ASYF in Slovakia. The conference focused on the future framework of agricultural policy in the European Union (EU) following on from the June political agreement on CAP which was made on 26 June 2013. This agreement included a mandatory top-up of direct payments for young farmers and installation aid under rural development, among other policies. This is why it is crucial that all Member States stand by what they have previously said about the need for generational renewal in the EU agricultural sector, and choose a calculation method which maximises the 2% of their national budget in their particular situation; opt for young farmer installation aid as a key part of their Rural Development Programme, for which particularly high co-financing rates are available if a Member State requires them; and select most favourable and relevant measures possible as part of their young farmer subprogramme.
Speaking directly to the Hungarian and Slovak young farmers present at the conference, the CEJA President called on the audience for their support, saying: “We will do our best to represent your views at the European level and to achieve progress for young farmers across the Union. I, and my team of Vice-Presidents, will dedicate the coming months to ensure that farmers across the EU get the best deal possible out of the CAP reform; Europe can now start to implement serious measures to address the age crisis in European agriculture.”
On 27 June 2013, CEJA, the European Council of Young Farmers, elected its new Presidency for a two-year mandate at the 2013 General Assembly in Brussels, Belgium, which took place the day after the final deal on CAP reform was agreed, including a mandatory measure for young farmers in its first pillar. Matteo Bartolini, a young farmer from Italy, was elected as the new CEJA President with 84% of the vote. Alan Jagoe from Ireland, Matthias Daun from Germany, Laurent Poirier from France and Paola Del Castillo from Spain were elected as Vice-Presidents. Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Dacian Ciolos attended the meeting as guest of honour and addressed one hundred young farmers from across Europe.
All five members of the new CEJA Presidency 2013-2015 are dedicated to continuing the work of the previous Board, to raising the profile of young farmers ever-higher as well as the awareness of the demographic challenge European agriculture suffers from. Despite this week’s achievements made in the CAP reform, CEJA, under the new Presidency, will now have to focus on the implementation of the policy, including collaborating with the European Commission on delegated acts, ensuring that young farmers from across the Union get the best deal possible out of this reform.
Commenting on his election, the new CEJA President Matteo Bartolini stated: “I am honoured to have been elected as President by CEJA General Assembly and to have been entrusted with this important job, particularly at such a crucial time for young farmers. A political agreement was achieved just days ago on CAP reform which included strong measures for young farmers. For the first time in the history of the CAP, there is a common European policy for young farmers. We now need to ensure it is implemented in such a way that the top-up of direct payments is maximised in all Member States and that installation aid under rural development is implemented in as many Member States as possible. CEJA must now continue to shape European policy in discussions on implementing and delegated acts. I, alongside my close-knit team of Vice-Presidents, will dedicate the next two years to defending the interests of young farmers in Europe and the case for generational renewal in agriculture”.
You can find detailed biographies of the new CEJA Presidency below.
Matteo Bartolini (IT)
Matteo Bartolini is a 36 year old Italian young farmer from Umbria who started his business in 2004. A member of Associazione Giovani Imprenditori Agricoli (AGIA), he has previously held positions on a national basis including Regional Vice-Chairman and Member of the National Board. A university graduate in Economics, his farm now operates in a number of different sectors including agri-tourism, educational and vocational activities, cultivation of flax and truffles and the direct sales of both fresh, and processed, truffles. Mr Bartolini has undertaken a number of ambitious projects in the agricultural sector, especially in relation to truffles and linseed; for example, he played an important part in research for the University of Perugia on truffle cultivation. In 2007, Matteo Bartolini started a "Truffle School", which aims to bring participants closer to the ancient tradition of truffle hunting. In 2008, Mr Bartolini won the prize for “Best Young Entrepreneurial Experience in Agriculture” from the Italian Ministry of agriculture for his Truffle School project.
Matthias Daun (DE)
Matthias Daun is a 26-year old dairy farmer from the West of Germany. He and his parents have 170 cows and 150-strong cattle herd on 180 hectares of land, 60% of which is grassland. An Agricultural Sciences graduate from Bonn University, he has been working on his parents’ farm for the past two years and has been an active member of BDL, the German young farmers’ organisation, for almost ten years. The current President of BDL, he has represented young farmers both at regional and national level.
Paola Del Castillo (ES)
Paola Del Castillo is a 31 year old young farmer on a cattle farm in Cádiz, Spain. The farm consists of a herd of 130 cows of a native breed called ‘Retinta’ which are produced for meat. Ms Del Castillo has been a member of Spanish young farmers’ organisation ASAJA since 2006 and has also collaborated with the Association of Women and Families in Rural Areas since 2006. Ms Del Castillo studied Business Management at the Enterprise Institute of Madrid and, in 2009, won a prize for Women's Initiatives.
Alan Jagoe (IE)
Alan Jagoe is a 30 year-old dairy, beef and arable young farmer from Carrigaline, Co. Cork in Ireland and farms in partnership with his father and brother, milking 170 cows of which the milk supplied to their local co-operative. For the last two years he has served as President of Macra na Feirme – Ireland’s young farmer and rural youth organisation - representing Ireland’s young farmers at National, European and International level. Mr Jagoe has been instrumental in conducting studies and reports into “Land Mobility” and significant work on the CAP reform in Ireland.
Laurent Poirier (FR)
Laurent Poirier is a 33 year-old arable farmer from Bourges, France who studied Farm Analysis and Management. Mr Poirier owns 185ha of wheat, barley, rape, maize and sunflowers, and also has 252 square metres of photovoltaic plants. He took over his family farm after his parents’ retirement in 2008 at the age of 28. Having been a member of the French young farmers’ organisation (Jeunes Agriculteurs) National Committee in charge of European issues, he is well-versed in the details of the CAP post-2013.
This afternoon, COMAGRI MEPs accepted the political agreement on all four dossiers of the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) 2014-2020 following a renegotiated mandate from the Agriculture and Fisheries Council under the Irish Presidency. Over 18 months after the European Commission released its legislative proposals for CAP in October 2011, the three institutions finally came to compromise agreements on all of the open issues involved. This new CAP includes robust measures for young farmers in both Pillars, marking the end of a long campaign by CEJA to raise awareness of the demographic crisis in EU agriculture and to gain support for measures which will address it. Young farmers were one of the elements of the reform which stayed particularly close to the European Commission’s original proposals, in practice amounting to a potential 800 million euros available to young farmers across the entire EU.
It has been a long journey since CEJA first proposed complementary young farmers’ measures under both Pillars of the future CAP to the European Commission, but the final political agreement has now been obtained and includes this crucial set of measures aimed at increasing generational renewal in agriculture. Under direct payments, for the first time in the history of the CAP there is a chapter dedicated to young farmers which consists of a mandatory top-up of direct payments in the first years of business in every single EU Member State. This is accompanied by a weighty sub-programme for young farmers under rural development, with the possibility of a very favourable co-financing ratio for Member States. Farmers all over Europe, and particularly young farmers, can now start to plan their business for the next seven years in the knowledge of the demands placed upon them and the payments they are likely to receive. Although there is still much work to do now on the technical side, to ensure that farmers across the EU get the best deal possible out of this reform, Europe can now start to implement serious measures to address the age crisis in European agriculture.
All three of the EU institutions worked particularly hard in order to achieve a deal in the timeframe available, with a number of negotiators deserving praise for their hard work and commitment to young farmers and the need for generational renewal in the European farming population. Commissioner for Agriculture Dacian Ciolos was determined to establish a common European policy for young farmers in the new CAP, which was undoubtedly achieved. CAP rapporteur for the European Parliament, Luis Manuel Capoulas Santos MEP, kept the mandatory nature of the young farmer top-up in his report on direct payments, which was essential to securing it in the final reform. Mairead McGuinness MEP also supported young farmers throughout the process, and conceived a proposal for the calculation method for the young farmer top-up in order to maximise the funds available for the scheme, now included in the final agreement. COMAGRI chair Paolo de Castro stuck to the European Parliament’s mandate throughout the trilogues, his insistence particularly crucial in negotiations. Finally, Irish Minister and acting President of the Agriculture Council Simon Coveney was able to achieve a balanced deal and succeeded in achieving a renegotiated Council mandate from Ministers, shifting the Council position in favour of a voluntary young farmer measure under Pillar I to a mandatory one.
CEJA President Joris Baecke welcomed the political agreement on CAP reform, saying: “This is an historic moment for young farmers! The first reform to include a mention, let alone a mandatory measure for young farmers, under Pillar I; accompanied by a complementary installation package under Pillar II. The mandatory nature of the young farmer scheme in the direct payments dossier means that every single young farmer starting out in the EU agricultural sector will get additional support. This will prove crucial in addressing an age problem which is affecting every single one of the 27 – soon-to-be 28 – EU Member States. Add to this the favourable co-financing ratio available under Pillar II for the young farmer sub-programme, and Europe now has essential tools to start reversing the crippling ageing trend that European agriculture is suffering from. There is still much work to be done to address such a serious problem – but this is a hugely symbolic political signal for the future of European agriculture, which sets a precedent for every future CAP reform. Saving the future of the sector starts now.
Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
After negotiations continued late into last night, the Irish Presidency said this morning that it had agreed in principle to support a mandatory top-up of direct payments for young farmers in Pillar I of the new CAP 2014-2020. As Ministers meet in the Agriculture Council and discuss the latest proposal for a revised negotiating mandate, CEJA urges them to accept the new mandate so that it can be put to the European Parliament Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development (COMAGRI) tomorrow in order to achieve political agreement on a strong CAP for the future of European agriculture and to provide farmers with an end to uncertainty by the end of the Irish Presidency.
Young farmers have been a key part of this reform, and CEJA has been particularly vocal on the importance of a mandatory young farmer scheme in Pillar I of the new CAP – in order to stop distortions across the Union and therefore an unfair playing field for young people attempting to enter the sector. The European Commission has supported this from the beginning and included it as a mandatory scheme in its legislative proposals released in October 2011; this was reinforced in turn by the European Parliament after votes in COMAGRI and then plenary on the Parliamentary reports on the CAP proposals. CEJA now welcomes progress made in trilogues over the past two days, and calls on the Council to accept the Presidency’s revised negotiating mandate which includes a mandatory top-up of direct payments for young farmers.
Commenting on the developments, CEJA President Joris Baecke stated that: “We are pleased to hear that the Presidency believes Ministers are willing to shift on this point – we have said from the beginning that the demographic crisis in EU agriculture is simply too important to ignore. However, we are well aware that ‘nothing is agreed until everything is agreed’, but, considering the impressive progress made in the last few months, and even more so in the last few days, CEJA trusts that the institutions will find agreement by tomorrow therefore providing some foresight and longer term perspectives for farmers across Europe – especially for young farmers and young people considering entering the sector in the future.”
Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
As the final negotiations on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) 2014-2020 kick off in Luxembourg, CEJA reiterates the need for strong measures for young farmers in both pillars of the CAP, with a mandatory top-up of direct payments for every single EU Member State, as well as a strong installation package in Pillar II. The Irish Presidency’s suggestion would constitute a step back in the fight for generational renewal in the sector, encouraging Member States to do the least possible for young farmers.
Both the European Parliament and European Commission agree with CEJA on the need for a mandatory top-up of direct payments for young farmers as well as a favourably co-financed installation aid package under rural development. However, the Irish Presidency’s proposed landing zone of a mandatory measure either in Pillar I or Pillar II is unacceptable to young farmers. These two measures are complementary to each other – installation aid under Pillar II helps young people to enter the sector, while a top-up of direct payments in the first years of business will help them to stay afloat in the first and hardest years of farming. This idea goes hand in hand with the different philosophy between both pillars of the CAP, using a combination of direct payments as income support for farmers and targeted measures under rural development.
Encouraging Member States to implement a measure for young farmers in just one of the Pillars by making young farmers an ‘either/or’ mandatory measure not only defeats the original rationale behind the combination of measures, but would also create an uneven playing field for young farmers across the European Union and lead to increased complications and administrative burden of the new CAP. It is for this reason that CEJA is calling for a mandatory top-up of direct payments in Pillar I which maximises the 2% of the national envelope which should be devoted to young farmers as well as a strong package of installation aid measures under rural development. Commenting on this issue, CEJA President Joris Baecke said: “The two measures should be used in combination with each other to tackle the age crisis – not only to assist young people in entering the sector, but to ensure their business can get off the ground in the first years of farming – letting Member States choose one or the other will lead to feeble attempts at addressing the serious age crisis EU farming is facing, as well as inequality for young farmers across the Union. This is unacceptable, and the European Parliament and Commission must not give in to Council pressure on this crucial point.”
Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
On the eve of what is expected to be the final week of CAP reform negotiations, CEJA is in Luxembourg for key meetings with Ministers and MEPs ahead of a potential final deal on the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) 2014-2020. CEJA is using this last opportunity to discuss issues with Agriculture Ministers alongside final institutional negotiations to underline the importance of strong, complementary measures for young farmers under both pillars of the CAP, including a mandatory top-up of direct payments, as well as the significance of achieving a deal this week, by the end of the Irish Presidency.
Ahead of tomorrow’s Agriculture Council in Luxembourg, all 27 farm ministers are holding trilateral meetings with the European Commission and Irish Presidency of the Council in order to move towards a new negotiating mandate to be presented to the Council. CEJA is in Luxembourg to remind Ministers of the Parliament and Commission’s strong positions on the need for a mandatory top-up of direct payments for young farmers across the EU, and of the arguments for this. If action is not taken in every single Member State of the European Union to address the agricultural age crisis in this CAP reform, it will simply be too late for many young farmers across the Union by 2020. That is why CEJA calls for an agreement to be found on CAP by Wednesday 26 June 2013 back in Brussels, in order to end the uncertainty for farmers and future farmers, and give them some long-term prospects to work from.
Calling on the European Commissioner Dacian Cioloş, the President of the Agriculture Council and Irish farm minister Simon Coveney and the Chairman of COMAGRI Paolo de Castro MEP, President of CEJA, Joris Baecke, made it very clear what needed to come out of this week’s negotiations in order to secure a sustainable future for European agriculture. Mr Baecke said on the subject: “We have all been working on this deal for months, and are getting towards an acceptable agreement for the three institutions and farmers across Europe – you must make sure this is what is achieved this week, or it will be put off too long. It is up to a number of Member States now to shift their position on young farmers, and to accept the only reasonable solution on the table: a mandatory top-up of direct payments in the first years of business combined with installation aid and other support measures with a favourable co-financing ratio under rural development. This is your last chance to save the future of European agriculture – don’t let young farmers down now.”
On Tuesday 18 June 2013, CEJA President Joris Baecke addressed journalists, decision-makers and stakeholders at a Euractiv conference on sustainable agriculture in Brussels, Belgium. The event, which focused on identifying challenges and solutions for agricultural sustainability in the future, gathered several key actors in the food chain just days before Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) reform negotiations are due to be concluded. Mr Baecke used his speaking opportunity to detail not only the generational problem European farming is currently suffering from, but also why young farmers are better for environmental and economic sustainability, as well as demographics, in every Member State of the European Union.
The lunch event featured other speakers including Tassos Haniotis from the Commission’s DG AGRI, Paul Speight representing DG ENVI, Faustine Defossez of the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) and Mark Pettigrew of PEPSICO, all of whom took a number of questions from the Euractiv moderator. This led to a lively discussion with an audience from varying stakeholder perspectives. The CEJA President seized this opportunity to outline that young farmers were relevant to all views represented – not only because they are the future of the sector, but because they are more likely to answer to DG ENVI or PEPSICO’s demands and ideas in terms of environmental protection or technological innovation than their older counterparts.
Mr Baecke ended his intervention by reminding the audience and other speakers that: “From a market perspective, to enable more young people to start farming, economic sustainability at farm level should be a responsibility shared by all actors in the food chain.”
On Thursday 6 June 2013, CEJA, the European Council of Young Farmers, was represented at the National Young Farmer Congress of CEJA French member organisation, Jeunes Agriculteurs in Metz, France by President Joris Baecke. French Minister for Agriculture, Stephane Le Foll, also attended the event, alongside 700 young farmers from across the country. Mr Baecke seized the opportunity of the large audience and the Minister’s attention to underline the importance of support for a mandatory top-up of direct payments for young farmers in the first pillar of the new CAP.
Considering that the European Parliament and the European Commission are both in support of strong, complementary measures for young farmers in both pillars of the CAP – including a mandatory top-up of direct payments and a favourably co-financed young farmer sub-programme under rural development – at this crucial time just weeks away from a final agreement, it is now up to the Agriculture Council to fall in line with the other institutions and CEJA’s position, for the sake of the future of European agriculture. It is with this in mind that the CEJA President explicitly called upon Stephane Le Foll, French Minister for Agriculture, to support a mandatory top-up of direct payments for young farmers in the first years of their business in the CAP 2014-2020.
Addressing the 700-strong crowd on the subject, Mr Baecke stated: “Mr Le Foll has acknowledged the gravity of the situation – now I ask him to put his full support behind the solution for all Member States. We cannot end up in a situation where one Member State will apply a policy while its neighbours will not – this is a fundamental issue about fairness; we need a common approach to this common European issue.” The CEJA President continued by commenting on the calculation method of the top-up, saying: “For CEJA, it is clear that the full 2% of the national envelope should be used entirely for young farmers. 2% is a minimum contribution to the future of European agriculture, and we should defend it and avoid any attempt to reduce this modest share of the budget.”
On 28 May 2013, CEJA President Joris Baecke addressed all 27 EU Ministers for Agriculture, the European Commissioner Dacian Cioloş, and COMAGRI Chairman Paolo De Castro, on the subject of the CAP reform. As the last meeting of Ministers until the Agriculture Council of 24 June 2013 in Luxembourg – where the Irish Presidency is hoping to conclude a deal – this informal gathering in Dublin is likely to be crucial for identifying potential areas of compromise in this CAP reform. Mr Baecke seized this opportunity to urge Ministers to adopt a mandatory young farmer top-up of direct payments, arguing for the importance of a binding measure as against a voluntary one.
In the Commission’s proposal, young farmers have become a priority under this reform. The European Parliament has cross-party support for this proposal. It is crucial that the Council also endorses mandatory measures for generational renewal in agriculture in both pillars of the CAP. The CEJA President’s address was particularly crucial considering the closed nature of the current step in the negotiating process: trilogues between representatives of the three institutions for a final deal in June.
Appealing to the current President of the Council, Simon Coveney, and the 26 other EU Ministers directly, Mr Baecke stated: “Many have already acknowledged the problem and the opportunities for innovation and increased competitiveness for the sector that young farmers could provide. As shown from CEJA’s recent Future Food Farmers campaign, there is one aspect which must be addressed by this CAP reform before the other challenges can be dealt with: that is generational renewal in Europe’s farming population. However, some of you still have difficulty accepting that the problem affects particular national situations. There is not a single Member State that can afford not to address generational renewal by stating that there is not a problem. It would be like the orchestra that keeps on playing while the ship slowly sinks. Don’t let the future of European agriculture down, just for the sake of flexibility on a modest 2% of your national envelope of direct payments.”
You can download Joris Baecke's speech in full here.
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:
Interested in CEJA activities? Signup here to receive our periodic newsletter, news and more.
CEJA signed a partnership agreement with Rabobank on future collaboration - Read more in the joint press release here.