Irish young farmers met with Irish MEPs in Brussels this week to put forward their views on the future of the CAP and how they see specific issues such as the “greening” of the CAP, targeting payments at active and young farmers and single farm payments playing out.
Speaking at the meeting, Liam Aylward MEP for Ireland East and a Member of the European Parliament Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development welcomed the active engagement of Irish young farmers in the debate and has urged them to step up to ensure that generational renewal remains top of the agenda for CAP negotiations as the local, national and European level.
“We only need to look at the figures to see how important young farmers are to the future CAP.  Only 6% of European farmers are younger than 35 and at the same time 4.5 million will retire in the next ten years.  European agriculture is facing the real problem of having not enough farmers on the land to meet the food security and environmental challenges that the future CAP is tasked with”.
The European Parliament Report in the Future of the CAP, voted on last week by the European Parliament, identified young farmers as the key to the success of the future policy.  The Report identified the significant challenges facing young farmers and has called on the Commission to identify and implement measures to reverse the unsustainable trend of rapid aging in European agriculture.
“Young farmers face significant obstacles in starting up with high investment costs and a lack of access to land and credit. Under the next CAP measures must be targeted specifically at assisting young farmers with the financial support behind them to make them effective on the ground.  Support schemes such as grants and favorable loans, support for innovation and modernisation must be made available to young farmers to assist them is starting out in the sector and the Parliament’s strong position on this issue must be supported on the ground ”
The Macra group discussed their position on the future CAP budget and highlighted the importance of environmental measures under the future CAP in terms of meeting public expectations.   
Encouraging them in their position, the Ireland East MEP said,
“It is essential that young farmers are engaged with the debate on “Greening” from the offset so that the final policy is one that is formulated by farmers, for farmers and will reflect the strong environmental and green ethos that Irish farmers already employ”.