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, today 10 September 2013.

farm, agricultureAt 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.

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