‘Brexit and Beyond’: Young farmers take united stance in UK and EU

Young farmers from across Europe visited the UK to discuss the impact of potential trade and policy changes post-Brexit at a seminar organised by The National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (NFYFC) and the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) Next Generation Forum.

Held in Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire, the event took place Thursday and yesterday (March 1 and 2).

The visit, which involved members of the European Council of Young Farmers (CEJA), brought young farmers from Europe and the UK together to debate and establish the next generation’s position on Brexit.

The two-day event, supported by Defra (The UK Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Massey Ferguson and the Crop Protection Association, involved workshops and concluded with an important seminar called ‘Brexit and Beyond’.


NFYFC and the NFU share joint-membership of CEJA, and with policy and trade changes imminent, opportunities and collaboration for next generation farmers both at home and in Europe are rife for discussion.

CEJA’s president Jannes Maes spoke at the event, saying: “In these times of change, it is of paramount importance that we keep an open dialogue among young and future farmers across Europe.

British young farmers have been longstanding and valued members of CEJA and we look forward to continuing this fruitful collaboration, regardless of what Brexit might bring.

The bid to host the event was approved by the NFYFC Council, the NFU and CEJA last year and NFYFC chairperson Lynsey Martin said it was essential to get young farmers talking.

Martin said: “Collaboration and forward-thinking discussions with European young farmers are important during this time of change.

“Our CEJA membership has stood the next generation in good stead for Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) considerations and we relish mutual support during the consultation and implementation of a British agricultural policy.

“Brexit is as much of a concern for European young farmers as it is for us, so this is a great opportunity for scene-setting, debate and discussion,” the chairperson said.

Richard Bower, chair of the NFU Next Generation Forum said: “Our organisations have always enjoyed a close relationship and the joint-membership of CEJA has been productive and enjoyable.

We want to ensure future next-generation collaboration and to maintain a close, working relationship with European young farmers.

Irish perspective

Macra na Feirme had intended to have representatives present at the event but was unable to do so due to the extreme weather which engulfed the country in recent days. However, national president of Macra na Feirme James Healy held discussions with CEJA about the event.

Commenting on the seminar, Healy said that CEJA’s opinions on the importance of maintaining close relations was in line with that of Macra, and the Irish young farmers’ organisation supports CEJA’s stance.

The president said that, from an Irish perspective, it is important that the UK remains within some form of customs union, if not the EU customs union, to minimise and avoid disruption to Irish exports.