The seventh EPP European Congress of Young Farmers was held in the EU Parliament on Thursday, December 9, and highlighted the dedication and innovation put forward by young famers.

Under the topic ‘Young farmers as role models of resilience’, the congress took place just after the adoption of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) 2023-2027 by the European Parliament and the Council.

Only 11% of all farms in the EU are run by people under 40-years of age, while 65% of farms are run by someone over the age of 55.

Simone Schmiedtbauer, MEP for the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development said:

“Getting young people to become farmers is a major challenge; what we now need is incentives for young people to take up farming, investments in our farmers and those who become farmers.”

The congress acknowledged that the CAP should be the most important tool – providing a “tool box” for young farmers to succeed.

Access to land and profitability are needed to attract and maintain young farmers. Digitalisation and access to technologies are among the challenges faced by rural life.

Under the new CAP 2023-2027, young farmers will receive 3% of direct payments.

Diana Lenzi, president of the European Council of Young Farmers (CEJA), considers the 3% allocation a “welcome element” however, “not sufficient”.

“Stimulating and creating generational renewal is what is going to make the agricultural sector more sustainable, resilient, efficient and stronger,” she said.

According to the congress, there has been a recent positive trend of young people starting their farms in disadvantaged and remote rural areas.

As part of the seventh congress, the European Young Farmers Award 2021 rewarding innovative projects were held in Brussels.

“Initiatives such as the ones showcased during the congress are an investment in the future of rural areas and the local economy,” the congress stated.

Young Farmers Award

This year, young farmers from 14 member states have put forward their projects for awards in three categories.

Shortlisted from Ireland was Co. Clare-based young farmer, Joe Melody, from Melody Farm Eggs.

The Best Digital Project award went to Austria, for enabling consumers to directly contact producers through scanning the QR code of a product and receiving information on its origin and production.

Awarded the Most Resilient Project were nominees from Spain who took on a family tradition, reviving the livestock production and a cheese factory in a mountainous area.

Two farms in Bulgaria and Solvenia received awards for their commitment to take on farming in rural areas, producing sustainable, organic and local food.