European event focuses on farm generational renewal

Speakers at Generational Renewal event
By Norette Ferns

A recent event in Brussels brought together young farmers and representatives of National Rural Networks from across Europe.

The workshop on 'Generational Renewal through Rural Development' took place on 25 January 2017 and was organised jointly by the European Network for Rural Development (ENRD) and CEJA - the European Council for Young Farmers.

The event highlighted some of the challenges faced by young farmers and new entrants, such as access to land, finance, training and knowledge.

Across the European Union, less than five percent of farmers are under 35, with over half over 55. During the current Rural Development Programmes, 173,347 young farmers are already planned to be supported.

European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan gave an opening speech at the workshop highlighting that 2017 will be an important year on a number of policy fronts. Alan Jagoe, president of CEJA said the organisation is focussing their efforts on generational renewal.

Young farmers from across Europe shared their stories in inspiring presentations.

These included Agnes Papone from France, who told us about her experience of community supported agriculture, growing their business incrementally and using crowdfunding. And Fabio Curto, a young farmer from Italy, who told us about his fully-robotic dairy farm which sees technology and innovation linked to animal welfare.

Rok Damijan and Rok Roblek from Slovenia explained how the Ministry for Agriculture and young farmers' organisations worked together on an Action Plan for work with young farmers for 2016-20.

We also heard about the results from the European Innovation Partnership 'Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability' (EIP-AGRI) Focus Group on New entrants to farming. The final report and a series of factsheets from the focus group are available on the EIP-AGRI website.

The workshop was also an opportunity for young farmers and National Rural Networks (NRNs) to identify challenges, possible solutions and how NRNs could help support generational renewal. Ideas included NRNs representing new entrants at a national and policy making level and the importance of monitoring innovation, collecting data and sharing best practice.

You can find all the presentations, factsheets and more information from the event on the ENRD website.

More information for new entrants

The Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP) includes help for new entrants through three dedicated funding schemes:

  • Young Farmers Start Up Grant
  • New Entrants Start Up Grant
  • New Entrants Capital Grant Scheme

Visit the Rural Payments and Services website for more information.

New entrants to farming are being offered a free one-to-one mentoring service as part of the new Farm Advisory Service, which launched earlier this year.