Young people in farming
Only 11% of all farm holdings in the European Union are run by farmers under 40 – and persuading more young people to begin farming is a significant challenge.
Faced with an ageing farming population, the EU is stepping up its efforts to encourage young people into farming. Young farmers are given a helping hand to get their business off the ground with start-up grants, income support and benefits such as additional training.
Supporting the next generation of European farmers not only enhances the future competitiveness of EU agriculture; it also helps guarantee Europe's food supplies for years to come.
Support available for young farmers
Young farmers receive additional help from EU income support measures in the form of the young farmer payment (YFP). As a general rule, national authorities have to:
- set aside up to 2% of their total allocation of income support funding for the YFP;
- decide on the number of hectares per farm to be supported under the YFP (up to 90 ha);
- choose one of the YFP calculation methods (up to 50% of farmers’ income support payments);
- decide whether the YFP beneficiaries should have appropriate skills and/or fulfil certain training requirements;
- grant the YFP for a period of five years after the setting up of the eligible young farmers;
- prioritise young farmers when it comes to receiving basic payment entitlements from the national/regional reserve (in EU countries that implement the basic payment scheme, this priority is important for young farmers who do not have payment entitlements, who have less payment entitlements than hectares of agricultural land or who have low value payment entitlements).
Rural development funds
In addition, rural development programmes often provide additional measures to help young farmers get started. This support can include grants, loans or guarantees designed to help the development of rural businesses or advice on how best to enter farming.
These rural development measures are also supported through the ‘young farmers’ initiative. This brings together support available through the European agricultural fund for rural development (EAFRD) and the expertise of the European Investment Bank. In total, this support will come to €1bn. These loans will be managed by local banks and leasing companies operating across the EU. A minimum 10% of the amount lent to participating banks will be dedicated to farmers under 41 years of age, who will benefit from competitive financing terms.
New CAP: 2023-27
In June 2021, following extensive negotiations between the European Parliament, the Council of the EU and the European Commission, agreement was reached on reform of the common agricultural policy (CAP). This agreement was formally adopted on 2 December 2021, and the new CAP will begin on 1 January 2023.
Under the new CAP, changes will be made to the existing income support system, with measures being taken to ensure a fairer distribution of financial support for farmers and workers across the EU. Until 2023, current income support measures will continue, in line with the provisions of the CAP transitional regulation.
The young farmers needs survey
In 2015, the EU surveyed more than 2,000 farmers under 40, helping to inform EU policy making and better identify the needs of young farmers. The survey showed that access to land to buy or to rent was a considerable concern for young farmers. Additionally, it identified a need for further financial support, access to credit and the difficulties finding sufficient qualified labour.