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Friday 22 June 2018

MEPs back simpler and less bureaucratic CAP with reinforced young farmers aid scheme

Young Tim Brennan from Dungarvan , Co Kilkenny seen here with his dog bringing the130 cows in for the milking. Photo: Roger Jones.
Young Tim Brennan from Dungarvan , Co Kilkenny seen here with his dog bringing the130 cows in for the milking. Photo: Roger Jones.
FarmIreland Team

FarmIreland Team

EU and its member states should work harder to ease young farmers’ access to credit, land, advisory services and training, the European Parliament said on Tuesday.

MEPs approved the draft resolution, which looks into efficiency of current Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) tools for young farmers, by 472 votes in favour to 34 against, with 136 abstentions.

Reinforced and better-targeted CAP aid

MEPs welcomed the increase of top-ups for young farmers from 25pc to 50pc of the basic payment entitlement, introduced in the so-called Omnibus regulation, but insist on further reinforcement of the young farmers’ aid scheme.

They propose to extend the period in which a farm can benefit from this aid, increase the overall envelope for it beyond 2pc of national direct payments budgets, but at the same time make procedures linked to obtaining CAP funds simpler, less bureaucratic and thus easier to get familiar with for new entrants.

They also want the CAP aid for young farmers to be:

  • targeted to their specific needs, including their economic and social needs and
  • varied in accordance to their age and their level of training.

Easier access to finance

To facilitate young farmers’ access to finance, MEPs want:

  • EU-wide equal access for young farmers to loans with appropriate support and lending facilities,
  • qualified and independent advisory services to help farmers apply for credit and
  • subsidised interest rates on loans for new entrants and interest-free loans for the investments of young farmers.

Easier access to land

MEPs want to look into circumstances across the EU that limit access to land for new farmers.

To avoid situations when some farmers remain active just to continue benefiting from subsidies, even with minimum level of agricultural activities, blocking thus access to land for new entrants, they recommend increasing activity levels, counting real working time spent farming, considering new farming models and innovative practices applied, and targeting support towards particular achievements, such as environmental or social goods.

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Member states should take measures to tackle farmland speculations, facilitate land mobility and give new entrants and young farmers priority access to farmland, MEPs say. They also suggest developing national land banks and maps of unused and available land for young farmers.

Better training and international mobility to spur innovation

Young and new farmers should be given bigger support to introduce innovative practices and processes, such as precision agriculture and conservation systems, MEPs say.

They advocate a result-driven approach focused on the development of innovations and better source management, and they want the Commission to step-up research into sustainable farming practices with low environmental impact.

MEPs also call on the Commission and member states to come up with more and modernised training opportunities for young farmers and to better incentivise international mobility, through for instance an Erasmus-type programme of vocational training for young farmers that would improve their skills in the area of new technologies and new business models.

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