Nearly 61% of EU young farmers consider the availability of land for purchase and 57% the availability of land for rent as the most difficult challenges they face, often due to issues such as land ownership laws, inheritance rules and land prices, according to a new external report published by the European Commission this week.
Following extensive interviews with more than 2 200 young farmers across the EU in order to identify the main challenges faced in each Member State, the report shows that access to credits and subsidies are also perceived as difficult by more than one third of young farmers.
There is relatively little difference on these issues between young farmers in the EU-15 and those in the EU-13, but for questions such as access to qualified labour, seasonal workers and machinery, there is clearly a stronger problem perceived by young farmers in the new Member States.
This study also indicates that young farmers do not consider knowledge acquisition as a crucial element for successful farming. In their opinion, knowledge and lessons can easily be available and therefore the respective need is perceived in a less prominent way than other needs.
A closer look at knowledge and information sources shows that when young farmers are looking for information, they will first consult other farmers, followed by farmers' association and agricultural advisers & consultants. The internet and exchange schemes are also vital sources of information, showing for example that young farmers with higher levels of education more eager to join exchange schemes.
The report also takes a detailed look at the different types of exchange schemes already available, and then provides guidance for ways of making them more successful.
Commissioned by the European Commission department agriculture, the study was written by Ecorys in cooperation with LEI Wageningen UR and Aequator Groen & Roemte.