“As already one third of the ten million European farmers are over the age of 65, Europe's new agricultural policy must provide incentives and economic security to attract young farmers”, stated EPP Group MEPs Nuno Melo, Herbert Dorfmann, Asim Ademov and Juan Ignacio Zoido, organisers of the EPP Group's European Congress of Young Farmers.
"With the organisation of the 6th European Congress of Young Farmers, we intend to value those who are the future of the European agricultural sector and show Europe the way to go: more young people, better agriculture and best practices", said Melo at the opening of the congress on Thursday.
“Only 11% of farms in the European Union are run by farmers under the age of 40. With the reform of Europe's agricultural policy, we are stepping up our efforts to engage young people in farming by securing a fair and adequate income. Being a farmer is a profession, therefore young farmers need to be equipped with the right tools and education to succeed. It is our responsibility to give the younger generation of farmers the perspective of having a future in this important profession”, underlined Dorfmann.
"Europe's new agricultural policy must continue to promote the competitiveness of farms and agri-food industries. We need economic incentives to make agriculture attractive for young farmers and to stop the depopulation of rural areas”, added Zoido.
The Congress also awarded prizes for innovative farming projects for national contestants from north to south, and east to west.
“The sustainable development of European farming, the success of the new agricultural policy and the so-called Farm to Fork Strategy depend on the young farmers’ potential to apply innovative and environmentally-friendly practices on their farms. With this in mind, we created new prize categories this year and awarded the European Young Farmers prize to the best digital, environmentally-sustainable and food champions in farming”, concluded Ademov.
The Digital Champion in Farming prize went to Wouter Bruins from the Netherlands, whose project In Ovo saves money and animal suffering through an ultra-fast screening method that enables the high-throughput automated sexing of chickens’ eggs. This way, hatcheries no longer have to manually sort hatchlings and only breed and hatch female chickens. The Environmentally-sustainable Champion in Farming prize was won by Pavlos Tsakiris from Greece for his project on the production of organic grain for animal feed and of organic eggs. And the Food Champion in Farming prize went to Josef Obkircher and Andreas Kalser from Italy with the project KIRNIG, where they grow organic mushrooms in special conditions.
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The EPP Group is the largest political group in the European Parliament with 187 Members from all EU Member States