More help needed to encourage next generation of farmers
MEASURES to encourage older farmers to retire and allow the next generation to begin farming are needed if the industry is to close the ‘massive’ age gap.
Speaking to journalists at the European Parliament in Brussels on Monday, leader of the European Council of Young Farmers, Joris Baecke, said early retirement schemes had worked well in some countries but more must be done at EU level.
“Our main concern is the big age crisis we are facing,” said Mr Baecke. “There are not many under 35s left. Only 6 per cent of farmers are under 35.”
Mr Baecke said if the industry was to respond to the challenges of feeding a growing population with fewer resources, it needed ‘the actors in the play’ to ‘serve all the objectives we have in the future’.
He added: “We have to make sure there is at least a sufficient number of farmers in 2020.”
Mr Baecke said his organisation supported early retirement schemes such as the one currently being used in Germany, as it ‘speeded up the transition period’.
“In the case of a farmer wanting to apply for a public pension, he has to pass on the farm. I think this is a good idea because they won’t get their pension otherwise,” he said.
Secretary general of European farmer organisation Copa Cogeca, Pekka Personen, agreed.
He added: “We have to encourage older farmers to get off the farm. If the transition is too long it becomes a hindrance.”