Supporting young people by removing barriers to access farming is “key” to the future of agriculture, says the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee in a new report adopted on Tuesday.
The draft resolution on the generational renewal in the EU farms of the future, adopted by the EU Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development on Tuesday by 43 votes for, 0 votes against and 1 abstention, stresses that rural areas, EU food security, and the future of agriculture are dependent on generational renewal.
MEPs, led by rapporteur Isabel Carvalhais (S&D, PT), therefore, called for public policies creating fair and dignified income and a quality of life for farmers and their families as a pre-condition for attracting young farmers to agriculture.
Access to land, financing and support
MEPs identify the price and availability of land, difficult access to credit and support measures as well as administrative requirements as some of the main barriers to becoming a farmer.
On foot of this they, therefore, propose to adopt an EU legislation to improve the functioning of national farmland markets and address land concentration.
Moreover, they have called on the EU observatory on farmland to monitor trends and prices for land sale and rental should be established to ensure greater transparency of land transactions in the EU.
Member states, the report suggests, should promote land access for young farmers by, for example, pre-emptive rights, price controls on sales and rental or long-term usage guarantees.
In addition, it is in favour of young farmers being offered lower interest rates and support for the first loan instalment as well as advisory for their better financial literacy.
The report calls for national strategies to promote generational change including financial support for land transfers and pension protection.
EU countries should also create a position of a farm succession facilitator that can provide guidance during farm transfers from one generation to the next, MEPs say.
MEPs highlighted that young farmers are “better equipped to seize the opportunities presented by the green and digital transitions as they are more likely to apply new technologies and implement sustainable farming practices amongst others”.
The adopted report, therefore, stresses the need to provide young farmers with access to reliable internet as well as training on digital skills, business planning or innovative practices.
The draft resolution will be put to a plenary vote, possibly during the October 16th to 19th, 2023, session.
According to the report, demographic decline is more pronounced in rural populations and farmers than in other parts of society.
In 2020, almost 58% of farm managers were at least 55 years old.
Moreover, young farmers are two to three times more likely to have their loan applications rejected.
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