Yesterday, CEJA President Joris Baecke presented Commissioner Dacian Cioloş, COMAGRI Chair Paolo de Castro  MEP 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.

Agriculture is an important european sector.

Agriculture is an important european sector.

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 now well-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.”


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