The body representing young farmers across the EU has said that it expects generational renewal to be a core theme of the new Strategic Dialogue on the Future of Agriculture.

The strategic dialogue was launched yesterday (Thursday, January 25) by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

CEJA, the EU young farmers organisation, was represented at the launch by its president, Dutch arable farmers Peter Meedendorp, who said that a dialogue of this kind is necessary in the wake of recent farmer protests.

“[We] need to find an answer to the call of young farmers. Don’t let us drown between market realities, climate change and regulation.”

“We owe it to the people on the streets today, farmers and concerned citizens. It is not an easy task, but we owe it to the next generations to confront these challenges head-on and make a lasting impact,” Meedendorp added.

“CEJA expects generational renewal in agriculture to be a core theme across all future strategic discussions. With 11% of farmers below 40 years old, urgent and difficult conversations are needed to enable people to set up in the sector,” he said.

According to Meedendorp, the key challenges that need to be addressed through the dialogue for young farmers are income, access to land, finance, and a fair share of the value of food.

“Young farmers are ready to play their part and have been organising themselves to ensure a solid representation in the months ahead.

“Our role will be to keep engaging with young people from all across Europe involved in agriculture…and ensure that their aspirations and concerns are carried into this dialogue,” he said.

The CEJA president added: “[We] remain convinced that a well-informed discussion, grounded in facts and science, as well as the on-field expertise of all stakeholders present, is instrumental to the success of the overall process.

“Such approach is key to achieving a successful outcome and re-establishing trust between institutions, farmers and other stakeholders,” he commented.

Strategic dialogue

The strategic dialogue announced yesterday will consider challenges that are raised by stakeholders and participants.

These challenges, according to the commission, are expected to include standards of living for farmers and rural communities; exploiting technology and innovation, promoting the EU’s food system; and supporting agriculture “within the boundaries of our planet and its ecosystems”.

According to the commission, the EU’s strategic dialogue will involve stakeholders from across the whole agri-food chain.

These will include farmers; co-operatives; agri-food businesses; rural communities; non-governmental organisations (NGOs); civil society representatives; financial institutions; and academia.