Ricardo Bayo Huersio, UPA, Spain

The fourth edition of the series of CEJA Presidential interviews features Ricardo Bayo Huersio, President of UPA Joven, the youth wing of the Spanish ‘Unión de Pequeños Agricultores’.

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Name: Ricardo Bayo Huersio

Age: 34

From: Pedralba, Valencia. Spain.

Farm: Citrus and wine

How did you get into farming? Since I was a child I have been involved in our family farm.  Both my grandfather and father were farmers, so I guess they passed on the passion for farming to me.

Are you the head of the holding? If so, at what age did you start/take over the farm, and from whom? After finishing my studies in oenology, I took over the farm from my father. Currently, I run the farm with my brother who is the other pillar of our project. During this time we have modernised the farm, introduced local grape varieties and set up a small wine cellar which will produce more than 10 000 bottles of an excellent wine this year.

How did you get into young farmer representation? When I took over the farm I realised how complicated things were for farmers. On the other hand, and after talking to some colleagues, I understood that complaining is not enough, but that it is important to react. At this point, I decided to step forward. I strongly believe that agriculture can have a brilliant future in Europe.

Where do you see your farm in ten years? Ten years within such a volatile sector like agriculture is a long time. In any case, I would like to see that our wine project goes forward. I do not conceive my farm as a single business project; I consider that my farm can contribute to the development of my town and country.  I want to see my town as it was in the past, a lively place to live in.

Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time? Among our vineyards and orange trees, it can seem a bit romantic but honestly I do not need more.

What do you think about the new CAP, and how do you see it affecting you and other young farmers in Spain? We have a very clear position on the new CAP. We have opposed this CAP reform from the beginning because we consider that it does not address the problems that European agriculture and rural areas have. The young farmer’s support system is just an example.  Having said this, we are going to use all the tools that this new CAP offers in order to do our best.

What do you think should be done in your Member State to promote generational renewal in the farming population? In Spain, generational renewal is a big problem. We have just one young farmer for every 20 over 55. This is just unacceptable. Public authorities can do much more, particularly regarding land access, finance and taxation measures and a friendlier legal framework, but let’s be honest – we also need the help of our older colleagues, we need new retirement rules in order for new ideas and energy to arrive in fields.

How many young farmers does UPA represent and what kind of services does it provide to its young farmer members? We represent more than 80 000 farmers in Spain; more than 1 000 of them are young farmers.

Through our offices we deal with young farmer installation projects, direct payments and rural development support as well as courses and legal aid. We try to ensure that our members never walk alone.

How do these compare to other young farming organisations in Spain? I do not like to make comparisons. I think every one of us within our organisations try to do our best. All the organisations in Spain aim to defend young farmer’s interests, it’s just that sometimes we do have different points of view; in UPA JOVEN we defend family farming and a sector at the service of society.

How have UPA young farmers reacted to the new CAP and its implementation? As I said before, we do not like this new CAP; therefore our reaction has not been very positive. For instance, I still do not know the amount of the basic payments for the next period, this is just unacceptable, and like any other business we need to plan in advance.  In any case, we cannot carry on complaining we have to use the resources and framework that we will have in the best way.

What do you think are the advantages of farming in Spain compared to other EU Member States? Agriculture in Spain has a huge potential. The diversity of climates, terrains and soils make our country unique. Due to our geographical and climatic factors we are able to produce and lead the production of a wide range of Mediterranean products such as olive oil, wine, fruits and vegetables or dried fruits as well as continental products and even tropical ones such us bananas or coffee.

Therefore, and counting on these elements, I really think that agriculture has a future in Spain, we just need to change some old-fashioned structures and behaviours. Believe me, we are working hard on this.

What would you like to achieve within your organisation and within CEJA in your time as President of UPA? Although UPA JOVEN has only joined CEJA quite recently in comparison with other organisations, our goal is very clear: to increase the visibility of young farmers at both national and European level. We firmly believe that CEJA is the best tool to defend young farmers’ interests within the EU.

We should be as active as we can in order to show our realities, demands and strengths to the EU institutions and the EU society as a whole. In this regard, we will work very closely with the CEJA Secretariat in order achieve common goals.

What elements do you think future EU agricultural policy should focus on? I believe that EU agriculture is at a crossroads. In a changing and global world, the role of agriculture in Europe must be redefined. We do not just want more support for young farmers, we want a comprehensive approach to EU agriculture as a whole. The question that Institutions, representatives and the whole society must put on the table is: do we want to maintain our food sovereignty? Do we want to keep our high food standards? Do we want to preserve our rural areas and landscapes?

If the answer is yes, well then, we need a strong and well-financed agricultural policy.

In this respect, as always, we are available to open a serious and constructive debate in order to determine how EU agriculture should evolve in future. We are not afraid of debating and contrasting opinions, we are certain of our arguments and strengths. I am absolutely sure that with the lead of the CEJA Secretariat we are more than ready to put forward our proposals and have our say in the next CAP reform.

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