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Access barriers to young farmers - expert report!

By Project Down to Earth
Generational renewal

Following our Second Digital Workshop on the topic of Year 2: Access barriers to young farmers in depopulated areas, organised by our partner Fundación Juana de Vega, the experts from amattera, Neus Monllor and Dirk Madriles, have produced an analytical report for Down to Earth, which will guide us in the development of our Regional Reports and our Thematic Report.

To address the challenges of an aging population in rural areas and support sustainable rural development, generational renewal is key, underlines the report.

Benefits of Generational Renewal

  • Economic Growth: Generational renewal leads to job creation, increased agricultural production, and a boost to the local economy in rural areas.
  • Environmental Protection: Young farmers are more open to adopting sustainable farming practices, contributing to environmental sustainability and a healthier ecosystem.
  • Preservation of Rural Landscapes: Maintaining traditional landscapes and rural areas by continuing farming practices that contribute to their preservation.
  • Innovation and Resilience: Diversifying farming models and encouraging new ideas from young farmers promotes innovation and strengthens the overall resilience of the agricultural sector.

However young farmers are faced with a number of challenges and barriers to their installation and the development of their activity, which are only exacerbated in depopulated rural areas.

Land Access and Acquisition

  • Land access and high land prices competition make it difficult for young and new farmers to acquire land.
  • Limited availability of land often exceeds the financial resources of aspiring farmers.
  • New farmers frequently start on land with limitations like poor soil quality, inadequate infrastructure, or distance from key markets.

Financial Constraints

  • Limited personal capital and difficulty accessing credit further restrict entry into the agriculture sector.
  • The generally low return on investment in agriculture discourages many potential entrants.

Regulatory and Administrative Hurdles

  • Complex regulations and paperwork can be overwhelming for new farmers.
  • Inadequate technical support and lack of readily available services hinder new farmers' success.

Image and Perception Challenges

The perception of agriculture as a demanding career with low prestige deters some young people from pursuing farming as a career.

Climate Change Impact

The unpredictable and potentially disruptive effects of climate change pose a significant threat to new entrants in agriculture.

Educational Background and Training

  • A significant percentage of farm managers in Europe lack full agricultural training, impacting their ability to adopt new and innovative farming practices.
  • Young farmers have higher levels of educational attainment in terms of full agricultural training compared to older farmers.

In the report, amaterra outlines several strategies for Generational Renewal:

Knowledge Transfer

Facilitating the flow of knowledge from experienced farmers to the next generation is essential to secure the continuity of agricultural knowledge and practices.

Circular Process Approach

Viewing generational renewal as a circular process helps preserve traditional knowledge, ensures the continuation of traditional farming practices, fosters innovation, and strengthens the agricultural sector.

Diverse Farming Models

Supporting the exploration of alternative farming models beyond traditional family farms, such as cooperatives, partnerships, or shared farming arrangements, promotes innovation and enhances the resilience of agricultural systems.

But what really is essential is to foster collaboration between younger and older generations, which ensures a successful and sustainable generational renewal in agriculture.

  • Knowledge Continuity: Inter-generational cooperation ensures the continuity of agricultural knowledge and practices.
  • Innovation and Adaptability: Collaboration between generations paves the way for a more innovative and adaptable agricultural future.
  • Preservation of Traditional Practices: The cooperation between younger and older generations helps preserve traditional farming practices and techniques crucial for maintaining the land and agricultural heritage.

The European Union can support generational renewal in agriculture by promoting programs and policies that facilitate the process, but first and foremost understanding the aspirations and goals of young and new farmers in the region is crucial to support.

Through our Regional Stakeholder Meetings this Year, our regional partners will discuss with key stakeholders to better understand their regional situation and identify existing good practices. Our work will investigate existing support systems for aspiring and identify relevant for policy changes.

This will lead to the publication of Down to Earth second Thematic Report early 2025!

➡️ The full report is available in Down to Earth Library.