‘Lacking ambition’: European young farmers denounce proposed CAP cuts

European young farmers have reacted with disappointment to the announcement of the European Commission’s budget proposal for the period 2021-2027.

The proposal was unveiled at the European Parliament by Budget and Human Resources Commissioner Gunther Oettinger, causing alarm about foreseen substantial cuts to the Common Agricultural Policy.

Reacting to the announcement, CEJA president Jannes Maes stated: “Young farmers across Europe have clearly vocalised our ambition in terms of environmental care, community building, and economic output.

It must be made very clear that those ambitions can only be reached when they are met with an equally ambitious agricultural budget.

The Europe-wide association stressed that the task of enabling more young people to thrive in agriculture is the key to numerous challenges such as ensuring future food security, reaching climate and environmental targets, and stemming the decline of rural areas.

A budget which foresees a reduction in CAP funding lacks the ambition needed for Europeans to collectively face these challenges, the group said.

It undermines the work currently being undertaken to reform the CAP so that it delivers better outcomes for farmers and enhanced public goods for all EU citizens.

CEJA joins Commissioner Hogan in calling on member states to increase their contributions to ensure that the CAP budget is maintained, and these cuts avoided.

The association also urged MEPs – especially those who are members of the agriculture committee – to maintain pressure both in Brussels and in their home countries to ensure that adequate support for farmers is secured during the coming negotiations.

Macra reaction

Meanwhile, Irish young farmers’ organisation Macra na Feirme has urged caution over the commission’s proposal to reduce the next CAP budget by 5%.

Macra na Feirme national president James Healy said: “It is imperative that generational renewal remains at the forefront of the CAP budget.

CAP is the cornerstone on which the EU has built a hugely successful agriculture industry and now is the time for member states to step up and find a way to bridge this proposed 5% gap.

“Agriculture needs strong generational renewal now, and the upcoming CAP must recognise this – which is why Macra na Feirme called for a minimum of 10% of the total CAP budget to be dedicated toward young farmer measures in our recent CAP 2020 policy paper,” Healy concluded.