National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

20 April 2011

NFYFC's Katherine Sealy reports from the CEJA General Assembly meeting in Brussels

We were received with a very warm welcome from the other members of CEJA who were pleased that we were considering our position with regards to membership as they felt we could all benefit from each other’s experiences.

The meeting opened with a summary of the work that CEJA has been engaged in, from the President Joris Baecke. He explained that CEJA has participated in many formal and informal discussions with agricultural minsters, representing the needs of its members directly with the Agricultural Commission. Having had the opportunity to meet previously with Gwillym Jones, I am assured of the political voice of CEJA in terms of its representation with the Agriculture Commissioner Dacion Ciolos. The membership of CEJA represents more than a million young farmers and is at the centre of the debate in European Agricultural Policy. The main objective of CEJA is to participate in discussions with organisations of any interest to its membership.

In 2010 it organised two seminars co-financed by the EU in Seville and Louvain, which had over 150 participants. It has been at the centre of discussions on CAP and the role of agriculture in society and engaged with the agricultural cabinet, the commissioner, stakeholders, banks, and member states to shape its policy and impress it upon them.

In 2010 CEJA adopted its Young Farmers Package for the CAP reform. Essentially this is a common installation policy with top up payments for young farmers and new entrants under Pillar I and maintenance and strengthening of the young farmer policies under Pillar II. With the approval of the Commission, CEJA is exploring the legal aspects of positive discrimination and binding member states to implement the Pillar II proposals.

As a stakeholder and consultee, CEJA attends the DG Agriculture chaired meetings as well as having structured dialogue with the European Parliament and an opportunity  to outreach to many political parties. They organised a farm visit for MEPs to get them on a farm out of Brussels. Their objective for 2011 is to continue to organise networking events and working groups. This includes
CEJA is engaged in a number of projects at the heart of Europe;

I believe that there are plans to investigate further projects and work, such as; looking at renewable energy, work with the World Farming Organisation focussing on generational renewal in agriculture and celebrating 50 years of CEJA. As well as continuing its outreach work with member states and raising the profile of young farmers in light of the CAP reform package, CEJA will be looking to further its partnerships and project work in 2011 for the benefits of its membership. There is a great deal of knowledge transfer and experience exchange which I think that NFYFC can benefit from with its membership of CEJA, which in turn should strengthen our organisation.

CEJA has commented on the Dess report, that it isn’t considered ambitious enough on young farmers in their opinion and they have suggested amendments to the report to call for top up and mandatory implementation of the Pillar II measures. Lobbying work undertaken by CEJA has influenced the drafting of a report by the Economic & Social Committee on a young farmer’s scheme, which includes the CEJA young farmer’s proposals.

It was at this meeting that our observer membership was agreed. As a organisation representing young farmers in a Country whose industry is dictated at from a European level, linking with CEJA to represent young farmers and new entrants and with their experience, volume and activity should strengthen NFYFC’s position and be beneficial to the membership, not just on CAP reform but also the experience of European young farmers and rural areas and range of projects that they are engaged in, so that we can learn from them and contribute to them.

Following the CEJA General Assembly meeting, we had the opportunity to meet with Tim Render, from the UK Representation to the EU and Brussels responsible for the Regions and Agriculture. He was delighted that we had been approved as observer members of CEJA and confirmed that they are very active lobbying the European Parliament and are well respected for the work that they undertake. We talked about how CEJA could benefit from our observer membership in terms of our experience of CAP implementation, the support that the industry received from the Government, how the Policy had been implemented in other countries and how NFYFC could benefit from such membership in terms of opportunities and skills/knowledge transfer.

CEJA President Joris Baecke will be at this year's Agriculture & Rural Affairs Forum in Blackpool on Saturday 7 May. Come along and find out how he is supporting young farmers in Europe.


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