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Second Digital Workshop with Experts!

By Project Down to Earth
Second Digital Workshop with experts

On the 12th of June, our partner Fundación Juana de Vega organised the second Digital workshop with Experts of Down to Earth, covering the topic of Year 2: Access barriers to young farmers in depopulated areas. This workshop was an opportunity for Down to Earth’s partners to discuss the topic with two experts form the consultancy amattera: Neus Monllor and Dirk Madriles.

The workshop began with an analysis of data from the latest European Parliament resolution on generational renewal within EU farms. This overview provided insights into the various dimensions of the issue, including demographic, social, educational, economic, environmental, territorial, and institutional aspects.

The experts then explained fundamental concepts surrounding generational renewal, emphasizing the need for a paradigm shift in its understanding. Traditionally viewed as a linear progression, they advocated for a more holistic approach, framing it as a circular process. This perspective addresses the aspirations of young individuals entering the agricultural sector and acknowledges the complexities faced by older generations reluctant to retire due to factors like ownership, emotional attachment, economic expectations, and well-being.

Termed as Agrarian Social Regeneration, this framework underscores the collective contribution of all generations towards fostering generational renewal. Despite acknowledging key barriers to this transition, the experts also highlighted essential support mechanisms available at the local and regional levels. These tools play a pivotal role in facilitating the transition process by offering tailored assistance to navigate through the various phases of the circular renewal process.

After the presentation, participants raised key questions and concerns regarding the support for new entrants in agriculture across the EU. Examples such as Catalonia's generational renewal strategy and Greece's national farmers program were cited as potential models for encouraging young people to enter the agricultural sector. Additionally, there was acknowledgment of the challenge posed by "ingrained family mentalities" and social prestige factors that contribute to young people leaving rural areas. However, experts emphasized the importance of showcasing positive experiences and fostering inter-generational dialogue to counteract these barriers.

Furthermore, feedback from meetings with officials in countries like Romania highlighted ongoing efforts at the national level to stimulate interest in farming among the youth. The discussion also delved into the multifaceted challenges faced by young people in returning to rural areas, underscoring the need for comprehensive support mechanisms. Experts emphasized the vital role of farmers in providing ecosystem services and suggested that their efforts should be economically recognised to incentivise generational renewal.

Importantly, the experts stressed the need for collective action among farmers themselves to drive generational renewal, advocating for a shift in mindset from reliance on government intervention to proactive steps within farming communities. This approach, they argued, could lead to more sustainable and vibrant agricultural sectors across the EU.

Overall, the discussion underscored the importance of collaborative efforts among policymakers, farmers, and stakeholders to address the challenges and opportunities associated with generational renewal in agriculture. Following on this workshop, Down to Earth partners will now organised a third round of Regional Stakeholder Meetings to discuss the issues with their regional stakeholders and start the drafting of their Regional Reports on the topic!