European Union Eyes Agricultural Reform but Young Farmers Want More

On October 12, the European Council along with Ministers of the European Parliament made a deal to reform Common Agricultural Practices (CAP) in Europe. However, members of the European Council of Young Farmers (CEJA) wish for further clarity.

With the next EU policy cycle beginning in 2018, ministers gathered to discuss how to make Europe’s farm policy simpler and fairer for agriculturalists. The terms are meant to aid farmers, who on average are getting older and farms smaller.

One of the major breakthroughs was giving the farmers more bargaining power, and also to assure they are prepared for any risks they will have to take on. Details were disclosed to the public in a press release.

The document outlines the feelings of the European Parliament of farm lands, calling them valuable and rare, as well as claim they are in need of special protection. Specifically, member nations will have the ability to block any sales of farmland which they deem as unhealthy to agriculture.

This is to strike a balance between preserving individual state’s ability to grow their own crops and their desire for influxes of foreign capital. There are, of course, exceptions.

For example, each state preserves the right to regulate the price of land sold, even in private purchases, limits on the size of lands sold and allow for deals which have already been agreed to go through.

Member nations will also be allowed to ‘prioritize’ buyers, meaning that some individuals or groups will be afforded a first right of refusal to purchase farmlands.

One issue, however, is still causing some controversy. That is, the definition of an ‘active farmer’.

The CEJA believes the definition of an active farmer must be formulated at the European level, as opposed to the national level, to ensure the safety of farmers. This, they claim, will assure that CAP payments are going to ‘active, business-minded, progressive farmers’.

Despite this hang-up, many young farmers are excited about the deal. The threshold for acquiring aid has been dropped from a 30% loss to 20%. Additionally, new farmers will receive almost twice the financial aid as compared to before the agreement.

Sean Finan, Vice President of CEJA, expressed gratitude on behalf of his organization for the negotiators shortly after the deal was done.

He did, however, say that the current CAP agreement must not serve as a starting point for future negotiations, as this will be detrimental to those that CEJA represents.

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