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Generation Gap in EU farmers Worries MEPs

by 5m Editor
5 June 2008, at 12:30pm

EU - While food production in the future is likely to rise, the future of the next generation of farmers is uncertain. At present just 7.6% of farms in the European Union are run by people under 35.

Only 7.6% of EU farms are run by people under 35

On Thursday Parliament will vote on a report by Italian MEP Donato Tommaso Veraldi (EPP-ED), which aims to make it easier for young people to enter the agri-business.

What is clear is that the profile of farmers is ageing. More than 50% of EU holdings are run by farmers over the age of 55, and 25% by farmers over the age of 65. In contrast only 7.6% of EU farms are run by people under 35 years of age.

The main goal of the Veraldi-report is to make it easier for young people to enter the agri-foods sector and, at the same time, to effect a "generation change" in order to make the sector more dynamic.

Young farmers - new burdens of farmers

The report notes that farms run by young people are on average more profitable and young farmers are more willing to adopt innovative solutions and use environment-friendly farming methods.

However, the changing nature of agriculture and the EU's Common Agriculture Policy is imposing new burdens on young farmers, including high installation costs, resulting in heavy debt, a lack of available holdings and insufficient training. The CAP reforms also pose challenges, notably in meeting cross-compliance requirements - this is the requirement that farmers must meet minimum ecological standards or lose subsidies.

The report, adopted by Parliament's Agriculture Committee on 6 May calls for young farmers to "take up the challenges arising as a result of more open world markets". It also wants them to be more aware of the impact of climate change and says they should be made aware of their responsibilities with regard to combating climate change.

Better tools for farmers

The report also calls for the development of policies that give priority to helping young people to gain entry to a multifunctional farming sector. It also stresses the need for young farmers to be able to access information and tools enabling them to analyse market trends.

Next Monday 9 June, the Agriculture Committee will organise a public hearing on the CAP Health Check which aims to modernise and simplify the CAP and make the market more competitive.

5m Editor