Young farmers say MEPs are letting them down on CAP reform

European young farmers organisation CEJA has said it is deeply concerned about the direction being taken by the Agriculture Committee of the European Parliament in reforming the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

It is particularly concerned by the CAP Strategic Plans report regarding the compromise amendments related to young farmers.

CEJAsays that despite the vocal support expressed for generational renewal and the fact that it is one of the nine key objectives in the future Policy, the need for additional support for young farmers is being undermined and overlooked.

It said there has been no increase in the ambition for young farmers’ measures and the 2pc to be ring-fenced will only apply to the Complementary Income Support for Young Farmers.

It also claims crucial instruments in Pillar II that assist young farmers in setting up will have no guarantee of a fixed financial allocation.

This includes installation aid which will be accessible to new farmers and rural businesses as well as young farmers, thereby diluting the assistance received by each individual.

Additionally, CEJA says while the inclusion of the amendment on the “no-backsliding” principle declaring that Member States cannot attribute a lower envelope to young farmers’ measures compared to the one in the 2014-2020 CAP was a positive step, it is now no longer on the table.

“It will be crucial that young farmers’ organisations play an active role in the elaboration of the SWOT analyses that will take place in every Member State, in order to show that they have not been forgotten by their representatives and as an acknowledgement that generational renewal isn’t merely a written objective but an urgent and real need for the future of the sector,” said CEJA President Jannes Maes.

“They deserve to see improvements in the Policy rather than a worsening of the situation resulting from empty promises,” it said.

In its CAP proposal, Macra na Feirme proposes the strengthening of the active farmer definition and also removing the five year rule which will result in the redistribution of direct payments. Ensuring financial support is directed to active farmers, will allow for a similar level of support to be maintained, but in a more focused fashion.

“The future of agriculture and rural areas relies on young farmers; however it is imperative the necessary resources and supports are made available to allow the development of their farm businesses to fulfil this expectation.”

It also says that not only should the CAP budget be protected, but there should be an ambition to increase it if possible in light of the challenges which we face as young farmers at farm level.

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