CEJA Holds Dinner Debate with MEPs on the Future of the EU Agricultural Sector
CEJA, the European Council of Young Farmers, organised a dinner debate entitled “CEJA – Inspiring the Future of our Industry” yesterday evening hosted by Vice- President of the European Parliament and Member of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (COMAGRI), Mairead McGuinness. The debate featured a number of MEPs from across the Union including prominent COMAGRI members Ulrike Müller and Marijana Petir engaging directly with leading young farmer delegates from their own Member States and regions. Discussions were centered on young farmers and the importance of CEJA taking a leading role in the long road to CAP 2020.
The dinner debate was held alongside a two-day CEJA working group in Brussels, Belgium. This working group aimed to set out CEJA’s vision for the rest of the current Presidency mandate (2015-2017) on the basis of an internal consultation process carried out with the members at the end of 2015. This has led to the adoption of a CEJA Work Programme structure for 2016 focusing on identifying new ideas, opportunities and solutions for the sector and its overarching policy, the CAP, with a particular focus on the crucial need for more young people setting up farms. With this in mind, the second day of meetings featured alternative examples of agricultural support from across the world including the USA, Canada, Australia and Switzerland. This information gave the participating young farmer representatives insight into potential alternatives to the constraints we currently work within in the EU and an opportunity to broaden ideas in order to move forward in the EU towards a better CAP 2020, including much more effective support for young farmers.
In the opening speech of the debate, MEP Mairead McGuinness reiterated her support for CEJA stating that: “Young farmers are facing up to the many challenges which face them today and into the future – price volatility, difficulties in getting established in farming, pressure on the budget for the CAP and of course, environmental challenges including climate change. We need to listen both to the concerns of our future food producers and to their ideas and solutions for the future – that is why engaging with MEPs is so important. We in the Parliament have prioritised young farmers and we must make sure that our initiatives are effective and where problems are identified, we strive to make changes”.
CEJA President Alan Jagoe was also adamant about the importance of the upcoming year’s work for CEJA, stating that: “It is time for European young farmers to take a central role not only in the modernisation and innovation of farming on the ground, but also in farmer representation and farming regulation at national and European levels. Young farmers will have to produce more from less in coming years in the face of growing environmental concerns in contrast to escalating food demand – but as the CAP budget shrinks, they will also have to ensure that support measures stretch further and are better targeted to where they can have the most impact. CEJA is dedicated to working hard towards an improved CAP and therefore an improved farming sector in the EU, and looks forward to the support of many Members of the European Parliament.”
CEJA represents the political interests of around two million young farmers from across Europe. Its main objectives are to facilitate the installation of young farmers, to inform and to train them as well as act as a forum for communication and dialogue between them.