- Majority of farm managers are older than 55 years
- Access to land and loans for young farmers should be improved
- Young farmers must be provided with training and advisory services
- Impact of new EU policies on young farmers should be assessed
Supporting young people by removing barriers to access farming is key for the future of agriculture, says 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 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 is dependent on generational renewal. MEPs, led by rapporteur Isabel Carvalhais (S&D, PT), therefore call for public policies creating fair and dignified income and a quality of life for farmers and their families as precondition 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 to support measures as well as administrative requirements as some of the main barriers to becoming a farmer.
They therefore propose to adopt an EU legislation to improve the functioning of national farmland markets and address land concentration. An EU observatory on farmland to monitor trends and prices for land sale and rental should be establish in order to ensure greater transparency of land transactions in the EU. Member States should promote land access for young farmers by for example pre-emptive rights, price controls on sales and rental or long-term usage guarantees.
Young farmers should be also offered lower interest rates and support for the first loan instalment as well as advisory for their better financial literacy, say MEPs.
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.
To design policies in line with the needs of young farmers, MEPs propose that the Commission assesses young farmers needs in the impact assessment of new policies.
Training and internet in rural areas
MEPs highlight 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 16 - 19 October session.
Demographic decline is more pronounced in rural populations and farmers then in other parts of society. In 2020, almost 58% of farm managers were at least 55 years old. Young farmers are two to three times more likely to have their loan application rejected.