With the announcement that Massey Ferguson is to partner CEJA – the European Council of Young Farmers - we caught up with Matteo Bartolini, the recently-elected new CEJA President at the Agritechnica Show in Germany to tell us more about the organisation and its outlook. This will be the first in a regular post by CEJA on the MF web site so look out for more news every month.
MF: Congratulations on your appointment!
MB: Thank you! I’m honoured to be elected to the role. This is a crucial time for young farmers. European agriculture faces a real demographic challenge. Today only 6% of farmers in Europe are under 35 and one third are over 65. Clearly, that’s not sustainable.
MF: Can you give us some details on CEJA?
MB: CEJA is made up of 30 national organisations from the EU-28, representing around 1.8 million young farmers in Europe. It is considered to be one of the key advocates for the agricultural sector. Our primary goal is to encourage young people into farming and to inform, train and represent young farmers. We act as a forum for communication and dialogue, and encourage public interest in farming-related issues.
MF: What is your background?
MB: I started my farm business in Umbria, Italy in 2004. I’ve been heavily involved in the Italian Young Farmers Association (AGIA) at national level. The farm operates in a number of different sectors including the cultivation of flax and truffles, agri-tourism and educational activities.
MF: We are really excited about our sponsorship agreement. Why is Massey Ferguson such a good partner for CEJA?
MB: As a major global player in the world of agricultural equipment, Massey Ferguson provides reliable, productive machines both for today and tomorrow. That’s why the partnership between us makes so much sense. Together, we represent the future of farming. I’m looking forward to cooperating with Massey Ferguson over the next year in order to secure a more innovative and sustainable future for European agriculture and young farmers.”
MF: What kind of activities does CEJA get involved in?
MB: We co-ordinate seminars, visits, conferences, written reports and direct the concerns of young farmers towards the European institutions. The CEJA campaign Future Food Farmers, for example, helped secure strong measures for young farmers in the new CAP and won second prize in the European Commission’s CAP Communication Awards.
We’re active in raising awareness of the agricultural sector and, for instance, work with schools on a variety of educational projects which reach millions of children. We stay in regular contact with young farmers’ organisations and agricultural institutions and associations throughout Europe and worldwide. We also have strong links with different international youth organisations.
MF: What are some of the current issues?
MB: We’re calling for increased public support for young farmers across the globe to ensure food security in the coming decades. The current barriers to entry into farming include access to land, capital and credit, low returns on high investments, and a lack of long-term perspectives. This has been taken on board recently in the EU with the reform of the CAP leading to increased support measures for young farmers but it still requires strong and effective implementation. CEJA will be working hard to promote this.
We’re calling for increased public support for young farmers across the globe to ensure food security in the coming decades.