News

Sustaining family farming

Mairead McGUINNESS
03.03.2014 - 13:37
Mairead McGuinness MEP

My relationship with farming is lifelong and enduring. It is both a passion and policy priority. I love the countryside, the people, the produce of the land and the sheer bliss of being able to walk the fields and savour the delights of nature and wildlife.

The less savoury aspects involve childhood memories of picking potatoes in freezing weather, of moving cattle, of young calves that wouldn't obey our commands, of having to work after school when other children were free to play sport or watch TV.

My relationship with farming is lifelong and enduring. It is both a passion and policy priority Mairead McGuinness

As I grew up there were other disappointments of farm life, animal diseases and the havoc they cause, of growing vegetables only to see the market collapse, of disappointing prices and of uncontrollable weather impacts.

Now working on the Agriculture Committee of the European Parliament, I have real experience and insight into the ups and downs of farm life across Europe. If anything, my appreciation of, and respect for those who produce the food we eat has grown deeper.

Family farms are main agriculture form in EU and worldwide

Family farming is the main form of agriculture in the European Union and worldwide. There are over 400 million family farms in the world – in Ireland we have 139,800 such farms contributing an enormous amount to rural communities and to our economy.

The O’Brien family farm (pictured above) is one such example. On my invitation, the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dacian Cioloş, visited the farm where he met Angela and Martin O'Brien and their son, William.

The UN has designated this year - 2014 - as International Year of Family Farming.

It is more than symbolic; it is a call to action to those who are concerned about food production and food security to see how we can encourage and support the family farm structure.

A vital component of our society and economy

Family farms are the foundations on which the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) was built.

The vital role which family farming and the food sector can play in economic recovery and the building of a more sustainable economic model for the future is now better understood and appreciated. There is a growing awareness and respect across Europe for the farming and food sector as a vital component of our society and our economy.

The challenge of feeding a growing world population by producing food in a sustainable way is enormous. Farmers are being asked to produce more, but to use fewer resources. They are being asked to manage our landscape and environment with ever-changing demands and rules

However, the challenge of feeding a growing world population by producing food in a sustainable way is enormous. Farmers are being asked to produce more, but to use fewer resources. They are being asked to manage our landscape and environment with ever-changing demands and rules. Sometimes these rules fail to take account of the family farm structure and act as a disincentive to families and these issues need to be addressed.

Key objectives 2014 to support family farms

This is a year to focus on the family farm model and how it provides the world with food to eat and a landscape to enjoy.

There are four key objectives for the 2014 International Year of Family Farming:

  • Support the development of policies conductive to sustainable family farming;
  • Increase knowledge, communication and public awareness;
  • Attain better understanding of the needs, potential and constraints of family farming and ensure technical support;
  • Create synergies for sustainability.

These objectives are valid for all farming families whether in the developed world or the developing world and we all need to work towards achieving them.

We believe in people. #believeinpeople @MaireadMcGMEP

MEPs Involved
current_meps - 28115.jpg
Vice-Chairwoman of the EPP Group

Latest

Albania in EU
14.02.2018 - 15:07

EPP MEPs in Albania: joint efforts required from all political parties on EU prospects

Albania has progressed and showed political commitment to EU-related reforms - this is one of the conclusions of the EU-Albania Stabilisation and...
Europe vote election
09.02.2018 - 12:19

In the 2019 European Elections, let's talk about candidates and programmes, not procedures!

The European Parliament will be ready to reject any candidate in the investiture procedure of the President of the Commission who was not appointed...
Time for tougher sanctions against Venezuela: Salafranca
09.02.2018 - 10:00

Time for tougher sanctions against Venezuela: Salafranca

The European Parliament has voted for tougher sanctions against the Venezuelan regime as it prepares for early presidential elections seen as a sham...
Protests in Venezuela
08.02.2018 - 12:22

Venezuela: elections must be fair and free

“We have to raise our voices to denounce further attempts to undermine sovereignty and fixed elections that don’t even fulfil the minimum...

Highlights of the week

19.02.2018 - 23.02.2018
Business finance chart and Euro banknotes

Voting on post-2020 EU expenditure and revenue

The Budgets Committee will vote on Thursday on Parliament's position on the EU's post-2020 seven-year budget (Multi-Annual Financial...
EUROCORPS' soldiers do a military simulation on the ground with chariot, trucks, guns, weapons and some wounded soldiers

Stronger industrial cooperation on defence

Europe needs stronger and better cooperation in the field of defence. The pan-EU cooperation on an industrial defence programme is an important step...
High voltage post

Making the internal market for electricity work for consumers and industry

The way the electricity markets work inside the EU needs an overhaul to increase the supply of affordable and secure energy across EU borders. The...