The EU farming sector is faced with an ageing population. In 2016 only 11% of farm managers in the EU were young farmers under the age of 40 years, according to Eurostat.
According to European Parliament surveys, even though EU assistance has been available to young farmers for more than three decades, the ‘young farmer problem’ seems to remain.
The European Commission’s proposal for the post-2020 Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has set nine objectives, one of which is generational renewal. The CAP budget will play a key role in achieving these goals but its future level is uncertain because member states are still discussing EU budget priorities for the period 2021-2027.
Another issue is the role of women in EU agriculture. Eurostat data from 2013 shows that on average around 30% of farms across the EU are managed by a woman. The differences among member states are remarkable, ranging from just over 5% in the Netherlands to around 47% in Lithuania.
In February 2017, the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee and Women’s Committee approved a report calling for an enhanced role of women in EU farming.
EU lawmakers believe that women have a key role in helping to revive rural areas as well as avoiding further urbanisation.
“This report highlights the multifunctional role of a rural woman – as a mother, a homemaker, a worker, an educator, a manager of a family farm, a guardian of culture, heritage and tradition,” Croatian MEP Marjiana Petir told EURACTIV.com.
Similarly, a global study carried out by Corteva Agriscience found that discrimination against women in the farming sector is still widespread.
“Empowering women could help revive rural areas and meet rising food demand,” the report said.
Small farms dominate the Polish agriculture. Their area gradually decreases, but data from the Central Statistical Office shows that the average Polish farmer has two to five hectares of land at his/her disposal. EURACTIV Poland reports.
EU member states will have to deal with the generational renewal of the EU farming sector “whether they like it or not,” young farmers say. And to do so, they first need to support a strong budget for the post-2020 Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), they argue.
Women, the great forgotten group of agricultural policies, represent a quarter of French farmers. In Brittany, the “agriculture au féminin” network is attempting to push forward the issue of gender equality in the farming sector. EURACTIV France reports.
The lack of proper infrastructure in German rural areas, as well as poor support for new small farms, prevent young people from investing in agriculture and force them to move to cities. EURACTIV Germany reports.
Getting a loan is the biggest problem faced by young farmers in Romania, especially when they are unable to provide guarantees as back-up, EURACTIV Romania reports.
Excessive red tape, combined with lack of access to land and proper rural infrastructure, continues to be the main obstacle to attracting young men and women in Spain’s agriculture sector. EFE Agro reports.
Low profitability and poor infrastructure quality make farming in Greece unattractive to young people, who are needed more than ever before to take the agricultural sector a step forward, stakeholders have told EURACTIV Greece.
EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) funds have helped a family in southern Italy revive and even innovate their business. EURACTIV’s partner Sicilia Agricoltura reports.