MEPs vote to improve efficiency of CAP tools for young farmers

MEPs voted on a draft resolution which looks into the efficiency of current Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) tools for young farmers yesterday (May 29).

The draft resolution was passed after 472 MEPs voted in favour of it, versus 34 against – with a total of 136 abstentions.

The European Parliament indicated that the EU, and its member states, should work harder to ease young farmers’ access to credit, land, advisory services and training.

Reinforced and better-targeted CAP aid

MEPs welcomed the increase of top-ups for young farmers from 25% to 50% of the basic payment entitlement, introduced in the so-called “omnibus regulation”; but insisted on further reinforcement of the young farmers’ aid scheme.

An extension to the period in which a farm can benefit from this aid was also proposed alongside increasing the overall envelope for it beyond 2% of national direct payment budgets.

Furthermore, MEPs were in favour of making procedures linked to obtaining CAP funds “simpler, less bureaucratic and thus easier to get familiar with for new entrants”.

They also want the CAP aid for young farmers to be:
  • Targeted to specific needs, including economic and social needs, and;
  • Varied in accordance to age and level of training.

Easier access to finance

Meanwhile, to facilitate young farmers’ access to finance, MEPs want EU-wide equal access for young farmers to loans with appropriate support and lending facilities.

As well as this, they believe that qualified and independent advisory services should be made available to help farmers apply for credit and that there should be subsidised interest rates on loans for new entrants – and interest-free loans for the investments of young farmers.

Land accessibility

MEPs also want to look into circumstances across the EU that limit access to land for new farmers.

A number of recommendations were made in order to avoid situations where some farmers remain active just to continue benefiting from subsidies, therefore blocking land for new entrants.

Increasing activity levels – counting real working time spent farming – alongside considering new farming models and innovative practices applied were suggested as potential options.

Targeting support towards particular achievements, such as environmental or social goods, was another recommendation muted.

MEPs maintained that member states should take measures to tackle farmland speculations, facilitate land mobility and give new entrants and young farmers priority access to farmland.

They also suggest developing national land banks and maps of unused and available land for young farmers.

Modernised training

Both young and new farmers should be given increased support to introduce innovative practices and processes, such as precision agriculture and conservation systems, MEPs argued.

A result-driven approach, focused on the development of innovations and better resource management, was advised.

The commission was also urged to step-up research into sustainable farming practices with low environmental impact.

Modernised training opportunities for young farmers and more incentives to encourage international mobility – through an Erasmus-type programme of vocational training – was also advocated.