The 4th edition of the European Congress of Young Farmers took place at the European Parliament in Brussels on October 18 and 19, in the context of a joint initiative by the Portuguese EPP Group MEP Nuno Melo and the Portuguese Farmers Confederation (CAP), in collaboration with Spanish EPP Group MEP Esther Herranz García and the Agricultural Association of Young Farmers (ASAJA) from Spain.
The event, sponsored by the EPP Group, aims at promoting European agriculture and rural development, while valuing the fundamental role played by young farmers in this area. The Congress, which gathered approximately 300 participants from 19 EU countries, awarded the best young farmers’ projects in the participating Member States: the Best Project prize went to 28 year-old Sander Thus from The Netherlands, the Most Sustainable Project went to 31 year-old Johannes Bertl from Austria, and the Most Innovative Project went to Beatriz, Fernando and Veronica Tejerina from Spain.
“These prizes value those who fight for such a noble career and show Europe the right direction to follow: younger and better agriculture and better practices. Without young farmers, agriculture has no future, and without a strong agricultural sector, the European project will collapse”, said Nuno Melo MEP.
"As in recent years, we met in Brussels and discussed issues that are very important to the sector, such as the generational change or the new opportunities that arise from the evolution of our economy or our way of life", said Esther Herranz García MEP. She congratulated the project presented by 30 year-old Beatriz, 32 year-old Fernando and 33 year-old Veronica Tejerina which won the most innovative prize with the Ovino TG project, a sheep-raising project in Palencia, Spain.
The European Congress of Young Farmers - which is already considered to be the biggest event of its kind in Europe - was attended by personalities such as Martin Sheele, Head of Unit on Conception and Consistency of Rural Development at the Directorate-General for Agricultural and Rural Development of the European Commission, the EPP President Joseph Daul and Vice-President of the EPP Group Marian-Jean Marinescu, among other figures in European politics.
According to recent data, the total number of farmers in the EU-27 has dropped from 14.5 million to 10.7 million over the last decade. Likewise, the number of young farmers (under 44 years-old) has decreased from 3.3 million in 2005 to 2.3 million today.