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 21 may 2020 09:34 

Farm to Fork Strategy: young farmers not convinced yet

While acknowledging the value of a Farm to Fork and Biodiversity Strategy, CEJA feels today’s publications have failed to propose a long-term vision by understating the role of farmers and new generations in the future of our food systems.

CEJA was looking forward to today’s publication of the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity Strategies. European young farmers are convinced such an overall strategy can result in a more coherent approach in reaching more sustainability on a social, environmental and economic level, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals. More particularly, they call upon the EU’s executive to ensure nobody is left behind.

The overall aim to make agriculture more sustainable is shared among young farmers. However, the attention given to some particular objectives is failing to recognise the diversity of today’s EU agriculture and farming strategies. Farmers’ activity, inherently focused on the needs of consumers, relies on the market-driven character of the agrifood chain. Any transformation of our food system must take into account these dynamics.

In farmers’ reality, any ambition relies on their possibility to create a dignified income. While the need for a decent income is acknowledged in the Strategy, it is lacking in appropriate pathways to make it happen. Enabling the competitiveness of the European agrifood sector is a precondition for the success of any future food system.
Young farmers in particular, can only be the stewards of food and countryside if they have access to the basic means of production.

“The fact that limited access to land, which is the most significant challenge for young and future farmers across the EU, is not even mentioned in the document shows that the Farm to Fork Strategy fails to recognise the needs and ambitions of farmers in this debate.”, said CEJA President Jannes Maes. “The overall strategy, while including some relevant and welcome aspects, has disappointed Europe’s young farmers.”

Despite the recent acknowledgement of farmers’ role in food security, the Farm to Fork Strategy doesn’t seem to constitute an adequate answer to farmers’ needs and opens more questions than it gives answers. Given the central role of agriculture outlined in the Communication, CEJA would recommend that the related institutional actors, experienced in agricultural policies, are better involved in the upcoming political and legislative process.

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