re:CAP | How Farm Policy Can Attract and Keep Young and New Entrants

After a summer break we return to our re:CAP series to talk young and new farmers. We are in conversation with our NGO representatives, Christian Rehmer (BUND, Friends of the Earth Germany), Aurélie Catallo (Pour Une Autre PAC), Ulrich Jaspers (AbL and Die Verbände-Plattform), and Ariel Brunner and Harriet Bradley (BirdLife). 

Question: Should specific support be given to any of the following: young farmers, first hectares, and for new entrants into farming? Why? Should any measure(s) be coupled?

Christian Rehmer, BUND:

If there would be any kind of future of direct payments, we want all of the mentioned supports. Especially supporting the smaller farmers by paying more money for the first hectares, but also young farmers and new entrants. We support direct payments for ruminants (especially sheep).

Aurélie  Catallo, Pour Une Autre PAC:

  • New entrants: transformation of the aid for young farmers in the second pillar into a payment for the newly settled:
    • The age criterion should be extended from 40 to 50 years
    • The diploma/professional experience criterion should be maintained, but training demanded as part of the installation scheme, to be adapted depending on the nature of the project
    • French criteria of minimal surface, working time and agricultural revenue should be maintained.
  • Coupled payments should be granted to:
    • Protein crops produced with agroecological methods, favouring those produced for human consumption over those produced as animal feed
    • Fresh fruits and vegetables produced agroecologically
    • Grazed pastures, with limitations for number of animals per hectare.

Ulrich Jaspers, AbL and Die Verbände-Plattform:

The Verbände-Plattform calls for special support for agricultural start-ups. This does not mean, however, that payments beyond that should also be bound to the age or youth of farmers (for example, we refuse to exclude pensioners from direct payments).

The association platform rejects coupled payments without any link to particular social services for the environment, nature conservation and animal welfare. The platform always emphasizes social achievements and not one or the other product. Of course, many social services are linked to good agricultural production.

Ariel Brunner and Harriet Bradley, BirdLife:

Coupling is always a bad idea. There is little evidence that paying young farmers helps generational renewal. We are not against it, but it is likely to be inefficient. Generational renewal would require that we first get rid of direct payment entitlements which inflate land prices and are a main obstacle to people entering farming, then tailored investment packages. In any case we would need environmental safeguards – why do we need more “young factory farms”?

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Helene Schulze
About Helene Schulze 23 Articles
Helene is a contributor and coordinator at ARC2020, co-director of the London Freedom Seed Bank and contributor for various other publications concerned with the intersections between food, agriculture and social justice. She recently completed a Masters degree in Environmental Governance at the University of Oxford. There she wrote her thesis on seed sovereignty and biodiversity conservation in the United Kingdom. Her work focuses on agroecology, (urban) food justice, experimental and participatory policymaking and art-science collaborations for expanding the reach and potential of the food movement.