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AGRICULTURE: YOUNG FARMERS REQUEST MORE HELP FROM EU.

Sylvain Marmier, CEJA's previous President, pointed out at the meeting that just 8% of European farmers are under 35 and 55% are over 55 years old. This, he said, clearly illustrates the "important challenge" for the future of rural areas. Mr Marmier said the three biggest difficulties faced by young farmers are poor access to the agricultural profession, the unstable context of the market because of fluctuating commodity prices, and the complexities of farming jobs which are becoming increasingly administrative.

Decoupling aid from output: a solution?

Mrs Fischer Boel said the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy in 2003 had "paved the way for young farmers to be entrepreneurs" much more than under the old CAP, particularly through the decoupled payments which are intended to make farmers more responsive to market conditions instead of producing more in order to get more subsidies. Under the decoupling system, direct payments to farmers are not weighed against current production volumes any more, but according to the farmland area.

Interestingly, however, the question of decoupled payments was the one topic of the questionnaire filled out by all the participants on which the young farmers and the ministers strongly disagreed. On the question of whether decoupling helps to orientate production more towards the needs of the market, the ministers were very positive, arguing that the "possibilities [of decoupling] are often not yet fulfilled by the agricultural world". The young farmers' lobby CEJA, on the other hand, was strongly critical of decoupling, stating that it "only works in theory" and "has negative consequences for agriculture", making it "more difficult to justify the Common Agricultural Policy".

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Publication:European Report
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:4E
Date:May 14, 2005
Words:269
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