European farmers are a greying population. More than half of European farmers will retire within 10 years, while only 7% are under 35. Many senior farmers have no successors in their family, and have no identified successor outside of it.
The question of who is going to be the next generation of European farmers is a very pressing one. Who will grow our food? Who will sustain rural economies and communities? Who will maintain open landscapes for everybody to enjoy?
There is also a major challenge in ensuring both the continuity and the necessary evolutions between the generations of farmers. How to avoid losing preciously developed soil quality and know-how held by the current generation of passionate farmers? And how to allow new entrants to develop more agroecological forms of farming?
Our organisations approach these challenges in two ways:
Our organisations are working to facilitate farm succession and entry of newcomers in a number of ways:
– training and advising young farmers and future farmers,
– advising senior farmers and landowners to facilitate farm transmission
– acquiring farms to put them at the disposal of new entrants, particularly newcomers, on favourable terms,
– advocating for the preservation of existing farms and their transfer to a new generation,
– advocating for better support mechanisms to new entrants and progressive entry into farming.
Today, when a farm comes onto the market after a farmer retires, it is usually acquired by neighbouring farmers. The result is a farm disappears and farms that are already large become even bigger.
Newcomers are new entrants into farming who do not have a family background in agriculture. Although it is hard to quantify precisely, they are entering agriculture in growing numbers in many parts of Europe.