A new report to be debated in the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee this week urges continued support for young farmers, and mechanisms to assist older farmers to retire, according to Mairead McGuinness MEP and vice-president of the European Parliament.
The report on the state of implementation of the current CAP young farmers’ mechanism examined, in detail, how support for young farmers is operating at Member State level. It comes a week before the EU Commission publishes its communication on further reform of the CAP, in which generational renewal is likely to be given high priority.
“In order to deal with the problem of land access, the report recommends revaluating the direct payment scheme and creating new incentives for older farmers to pass on their farms. It highlights that, even though EU assistance has been available to young farmers for more than three decades, the ‘young farmer problem’ seems to remain, due to its complexity and the limited effectiveness of policy mechanisms to deal with it,” said MS McGuinness, who is a member of the Agriculture Committee.
The Midlands North West MEP said the debate relates to a wide range of questions, such as restructuring the agricultural sector, ageing farmer population, identification and differentiation of new entrants in agriculture within young farmers and potential of policy to impact on generational renewal in agriculture.
“The general evaluation of the existing measures directed at young farmers is consistently positive. However, the optional support under Pillar II Rural Development of start-up grants for young farmers is over-subscribed in several Member States,” added McGuinness.
“Ireland, on the other hand, does not currently have a 'start-up' or installation aid scheme, opting instead for higher grant aid and investment support for young farmers," she said.
In terms of barriers to young farmers, access to land was identified as the most important barrier to new entrants due to limited high-quality land, land prices, impacts of the CAP direct payments and legislative reforms.