National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

28 May 2014

NFYFC is calling for the UK’s newly elected MEPs to support young farmers to provide sensible and workable agricultural legislation throughout Europe amid fears MPs may back down on Pillar 2.

NFYFC attended the Council for European Young Farmers (CEJA) meeting in Brussels where concerns were raised that some member states may sacrifice measures in Pillar 2, such as start up grants for young farmers, believing that Pillar 1 offers enough support.

Charlotte Johnston (pictured with President of CEJA Matteo Bartolini and NFYFC's Vice President Chris Manley) is NFYFC’s CEJA representative and a member of Kenilworth YFC and attended the meeting in Brussels. She said:

“NFYFC is concerned that MPS may consider that Pillar 1 includes enough support for young farmers. Mandatory proposals under Pillar 1 will, in reality, only support a minority of young farmers. Major issues including access to land, access to credit and high establishment costs are huge barriers facing young producers, which this mandatory measure does not address.

“It is vital for the future of UK agriculture that we see measures for young farmers under the Rural Development Programme. Some member states such as France have put as much as 10% of RDPE funding into young farmers, historically in the UK it has been less than 1%. Now is the time to change this and motivate and support the next generation.”

NFYFC wants to see the implementation of capital grants, training and investment to provide young farmers with the essential business skills needed to run profitable farming businesses.

The CEJA Presidium meeting on 8 May also reviewed the efforts of the six working groups in 2013 and looked ahead to this year’s plans. New working groups were announced including themes of innovation, the food chain, international free trade agreements and access to land and credit.

Charlotte said NFYFC’s attendance at these meetings was invaluable as other countries’ views could have a major impact on young farmers in England and Wales.

“There was a lot of emotion in the room with regards to trade deals with other countries, particularly the US. Some CEJA members want to return to fully subsidised agriculture, including food banks, as they felt farming was more profitable like that.

“We, as the EU, have moved a long way away from this. Suggesting such a shift in thinking is not only unrealistic, it would also be of huge detriment to the efficiency of English and Welsh agriculture.  Not all policies that are proposed will favour English and Welsh farmers and so it is important for us to be there to be able to put our views forward.

“I feel strongly that NFYFC is in a much stronger position as a CEJA member to learn about European policies and be able to negotiate with our Government. For the first time in a long time, NFYFC members are being represented at a political level in Europe through our input to CEJA.”

Membership of CEJA would not be possible without funding from sponsors Mole Valley Farmers and HOPS Labour Solutions.


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