Written by Marie-Laure Augère-Granier
The European Union farming sector faces a demographic challenge – a shortage of young farmers – that undermines its long-term sustainability. Many socio-economic factors, such as reduced access to land and credit, and lack of rural infrastructure, drive young people away from a career in agriculture.
The EU therefore provides various forms of support and incentives to facilitate young people’s entry in the farming business, most notably in the framework of the reformed Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) 2014-2020, which introduced new or strengthened measures to encourage them to set up in farming. Under the first pillar of the CAP, young farmers receive a 25% supplement to the direct aid allocated to their farm, for a period of five years, as part of the ‘Young Farmer Scheme’ which Member States are obliged to implement. Under the second pillar, they have access to support co-financed under the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD): a start-up grant and various economic, environmental, development and innovation measures which Member States can choose to include in their national Rural Development Programmes. During the CAP reform negotiations, the European Parliament was instrumental in the adoption of important measures for young farmers. More recently, in the context of CAP implementation at national and regional level, the Council and the Parliament have called for stronger support to help young people overcome economic and market barriers to enter farming.
At the end of March 2015, the European Commission and the European Investment Bank, which have been jointly developing financial instruments for the agricultural sector, presented a new model instrument designed to ease access to credit for agricultural producers, including young farmers.