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European Union External Action

Roundtable Discussion on Strengthening Farmers’ Organisations/ Agricultural Cooperatives and Attracting Youth in Agriculture

Remarks by Phil Hogan, the EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, in the margins of the Roundtable Discussion on Strengthening Farmers’ Organisations/ Agricultural Cooperatives and Attracting Youth in Agriculture

Jakarta, 7 November 2016 at the ASEAN Foundation

 

I'm Phil Hogan, EU Commissioner for Agriculture.  I'm responsible for the Common Agricultural Policy of the European Union. This policy oversees the activities of the 22 million farmers in the EU and also the EU agri-food industry, which employs 44m people. The EU, as you know, is a Union of 28 Member States with a 500 million population and 16 trillion dollar GDP, the largest in the world.

I'm here today to talk about how we can support the family farm model in the EU and in ASEAN.  As someone who grew up on a small family farm in Ireland, I am keenly attuned to the issues facing the family farm.

From the EU side, we can share our experience of developing social dialogue at the local, national and EU level. In the EU, farmers' representatives sit as equal partners at the table, alongside business, trade unions and government.

For example, before each EU Agriculture Council meeting, which brings together all the Agriculture Ministers of the European Union and the European Commission, the farm stakeholder group COPA-COGECA meets the Presidency in order to set out its priorities.

The EU and national governments fund farmer organisations so that the farmer's voice is heard.  Finally, there are regular civil dialogue groups where farmers can engage with civil servants at all levels of the EU

Generational renewal is a huge challenge for agricultural policy the world over. In the EU, there are more farmers over 65 years old than under 35 years old.  Access to land, access to finance and access to knowledge are the three main challenges.

The EU is helping by increasing direct payments to young farmers through a 25% top up in support, by funding knowledge transfer and by encouraging new ways of farming partnerships, so that the "young at heart" can share their experience with the farmers of tomorrow.

This is why I'm here today - I want to announce a deepening of engagement between the EU and ASEAN to help fund the development of sustainable cooperative structures in ASEAN nations.  We have lots of knowledge and expertise to share and we are willing to do so with our ASEAN friends.  In fact, there are many cooperatives on the business delegation which I have brought with me to Indonesia, including the President of the Italian Cooperatives.

It is notable that of the 17 SDGs, 11 are linked to Agriculture.  Farmers the world over will be the boots on the ground to implement the SDGs - we must support them in their efforts through finance as well as through policy.  I encourage you to liaise on this with our EU Ambassador to ASEAN, Mr Fontan, on further deepening our EU-ASEAN cooperation on farm organisation development.