Young Farmers: Their main problems in the EU and the new pilot project exchange programme

Young Farmers main problems in the EU

A study published by ECORYS (made in collaboration with Wageningen University and the company AEQUATOR) presented the major problems faced by young farmers and the new improved pilot project including travels in the EU and in some OECD countries (Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Israel, Mexico, New Zealand, Turkey and USA), aimed to training and education. The presentation of the study took place in Brussels, the weekend of 15-16/10/2015, during the conference entitled “Knowledge for Young Farmers.” The pilot project “exchange” Young Farmers has been proposed by the European Parliament and supported by the European Commission but it has not yet been possible to be applied.

Specifically, the presented study included three parts. The first one concerned to identify the needs of young farmers, based on sample responses of 2,205 young farmers (up to 40 years). The second part was to record the experience and results of the hitherto exchanges of young farmers (185 programs), which presented the results of farmers who participated in them (from the Netherlands, Belgium and Austria). The third part was the proposal of ECORYS, Wagenigen and AEQUATOR for the development of a guide for improving Exchange Programme.

According to the study, the most important problem faced by young farmers in 28 EU Member States is the lack of agricultural land to buy or to rent. In Greece 43.1% of young farmers face this problem. Even higher rates recorded in France (82.6%), Belgium (82.3%) and Germany (78%). Another issue is the lack of access to credits, subsidies and qualified labour in order to make investments. But there is also a serious problem with the education of farmers, which will help them to gain specialized knowledge and adopt strategies to grow their farm.

A large percentage of farmers looking for information on the internet. For example 94.8% of farmers in the Netherlands are seeking expertise for issues of their work via the internet. Netherlands followed by Hungary (93.4%), Great Britain and Luxembourg (91.3%), Denmark (90.5%) and Croatia (90.4%). The respective percentage in Greece is quite high (83.2%). Also a large percentage of young farmers acquire knowledge from other farmers. In Luxembourg all farmers get knowledge in this way (100%), followed by Portugal (98.6%). In Greece the respective percentage is 78.2%.

Regarding the results of the existing “exchange” programme of young farmers, although the rate of participation in an exchange scheme is quite low (17.5%), those who joined it seem to be satisfied. The research however showed that the lack of time and having no replacement on the farm (that is farmers could not find people to work on the farm during their absence to the educational journey) are the most important hindrances for a farmer to join such an exchange programme.

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