Food supply chains have been compromised due to geopolitical turfs which are shining a light on the farmers’ role and their ability to respond to the needs of millions of people. On the upcoming 8th European Congress of Young Farmers, taking place at the European Parliament, on December 7, the role of young farmers in food security will be the debated as well as ways to increase capabilities for the new generation of farmers to prosper.
1. Food security
Last year’s edition the Congress – organised by the EPP, Portuguese Farmers Confederation and Spanish Farmers Confederation – highlighted how young farmers provided a role model of resilience for the agricultural sector. This year, the main thematic will be centered on how to maintain food security, especially in times of geopolitical disruption with war waging at Europe’s doors with nasty implications for food distribution.
Moreover, the Congress’ 8th edition will showcase projects from 22 EU countries — young farmers’ projects — which will compete for awards on the best digital project, the most resilient project and the best project on improving rural areas.
The EPP group has always been an advocate for young farmers because they are the present and the future of Europe´s wellbeing. That is why we are celebrating the 8th edition of European Congress of Young Farmers to acknowledge the crucial role of youth in agriculture, especially amid times of crisis.Juan Ignacio Zoido Álvarez, MEP
The 8th edition will count with the participation of Commissioner for Agriculture Janusz Wojciechowski and a number of MEPs including the Portuguese Nuno Melo, the Italian Herbert Dorfmann, the Austrian Simone Schmiedtbauer, the Czech Michaela Šojdrová, the Spanish Juan Ignacio Zoido Álvarez. As for the panel discussion, CropLife Europe, Fertilizers Europe and the European Council of Young Farmers (CEJA) will be some of the voices sharing ideas to improve the role of young farmers in food security.
Ya está en marcha de nuevo @EUYoungFarmers, una magnífica iniciativa de @EPPGroup de la mano de @AsajaNacional para conocer el talento de los jóvenes agricultores. Nos hemos reunido con @jwojc para presentar la edición de este año sobre seguridad alimentaria. pic.twitter.com/5OQ3NbLB01— Juan Ignacio Zoido (@zoidoJI) October 4, 2022
2. Future of food systems
Faced with an ageing farming population, the future of food and farming is in the hands of European young farmers, who play a crucial role in developing a fully sustainable agricultural sector – one that supports environmental care, climate change action and smart solutions for providing safe and high-quality food for the European consumer.
Young farmers’ innate capacity to innovate, places them as the natural front-runners of the agri-food system transformation. However, according to the European Commission, only 11% of all farm holdings in the EU are run by farmers under 40 – and persuading more young people to begin farming seems to be a significant challenge. For that purpose, the EU is stepping up efforts to encourage young people into farming, providing them financial support — which they rely on greatly — to get their business off the ground with start-up grants, income support and benefits such as additional training.
Our degree of resilience will come from our success or failure to make our food system more sustainable, and our capacity to fill the investment gap currently at play in agriculture. In order for farmers to be part of the transformation, while maintaining food security for all, we need to demonstrate that there is a future in farming.Diana Lenzi, CEJA’s President
Young farmers want tools including risk management instruments, knowledge and skills as well as the appropriate regulatory and financial frameworks to seize every innovation and development – from carbon farming to New Genomic Techniques (NGTs). “With these conditions aligned, we will be able to build not only the next 6 months, but the next 10 years of EU agriculture,” added Lenzi.
3. European Year of Youth
After two years of closure and social distancing measures, the EU decided to mark 2022 as the European Year of Youth, shining a light on the importance of the European youth to build a better future – greener, more inclusive and digital. MEP Nuno Melo defends that such celebration must not leave young farmers behind: “As 2022 is the European Year of Youth, there is no better time than now to showcase the brilliant minds of our young farmers who will lead the way towards a stronger, more secure and sustainable food chain in the EU, providing a model for the rest of the world to follow”.