Agriculture is not just about plants, lands or cows. It's about people and about Europe's cultural heritage. And, above all, it’s about projects, entrepreneurs and Europeans’ food security.
The EPP Group has worked in this direction, fighting to make farms greener and ensure a more equitable distribution between old and new Member States.
Supporting the work of young farmers
Indeed, this has been materialised through the huge reform package for agricultural policies for 2014-2020. The reformed Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) will support farmers all across the EU, in particular young farmers like Andreas Gugumuck, winner of the European Young Farmer Prize 2012, awarded by the European Congress of Young Farmers.
Organised for the 2nd time in January 2014 by EPP Group MEPs, the European Congress of Young Farmers aims to promote and support the work of young farmers in the EU. It plays in particular an important role by establishing a dialogue between young farmers across Europe and allows them to exchange ideas and to find innovative and sustainable solutions for the challenges the European agriculture faces.
Agriculture is about entrepreneurship and innovation
Agriculture has a strong entrepreneurial dimension and young farmers are living proof of it.
Andreas Gugumuck quit his job as IT-Project Manager and started as a young farmer by converting a 400-year-old family farmhouse into a snail farm.
His vision is to re-anchor Viennese escargot as an important element of Austrian cuisine. He wants to provide local restaurants and dining establishments with an excellent product that excites diners because of its unique culinary qualities, local sustainable production and long tradition.
Andreas’ project had not only an agricultural dimension. “My snail farm quickly took a cultural and gastronomical one by reviving the old tradition of escargot gastronomy in Vienna, which had a huge success in the early 20th century. Escargot from Vienna began to appear on the menus of the country's best restaurants soon after”, says Andreas.
Indeed, star chefs swear by the quality of his products which include white Viennese caviar de escargot. And he recently started to export his escargot caviar to the USA.
As EPP Group MEP Mairead McGuinness says, “agriculture is more than just an economic activity, it is a vital part of a sustainable EU”.
Andreas Gugumuck’s snail farm produces two other unique products - escargot caviar and escargot liver; showing that the agricultural sector is one of the most vital and innovative sectors in the economy and that European agriculture depends on young farmer generations that will continue this renewing process.
“We must set as a European goal the promotion of the positive aspects of agricultural entrepreneurship and motivate young people to work in agri-business, establishing innovative solutions for their individual futures”, claims EPP Group MEP Elisabeth Köstinger.
Encouraging young people to a future as farmer
The EPP Group has introduced new rules giving young farmers like Andreas more support to counter the alarming decline in young people taking over farms. Andreas Gugumuck can be considered as a role model by inspiring young Europeans to get into agriculture.
“I would like young people and career changers to get motivated to start in agriculture. Europe has been home to a huge diversity, each region with other specialities, which provides many opportunities for sustainable projects. But it needs also courage to break new grounds – and this courage of young people has to be supported“, said Andreas Gugumuck as he hopes that his slow food project “Wiener Schnecke” contributes to the establishing this idea.
The EPP Group will follow closely the implementation of the new supporting measures for young farmers as our priority will be to ensure that the CAP reform will deliver on its goals for a more modern and efficient agriculture. This is the only way we will make sure that young farmers like Andreas will be able to continue their innovative projects.