ÄRIFOORUM: Noortalunikud ja tuleviku ÜPP - Valters Zelcs

ÄRIFOORUM: Noortalunikud ja tuleviku ÜPP - Valters Zelcs

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so hello the participants of today's conference my name is uh walter zelch i am a young farmer from latvia and today i'm going to give you a short presentation about a future cap which stands for common agricultural policy as well as the role of the young farmers of latvia and the young farmers in general but before i start this presentation i just wanted to express my deepest gratitude to all the organizers of this event because as we all know in this cert very in certain times that we currently live in i'm more than sure that it was not easy for you to carry out this conference on your shoulder so thank you for doing this and thank you also for having me today but before i start to talk about today's topic i would also like to introduce myself properly so as i mentioned before uh i am a young farmer primarily uh together with my family and with my father we run a crop farm in central latvia which together consists of almost 240 hectares and in our farm we grow various crops which is also partly a reason due to the requirements from the european organizations but institutions that we have to follow the crop rotation and we really do so therefore we grow more than six uh cultures in our farm and also i would like to say that our farm is one of the leaders in latvia in uh following the latest trends of agriculture in for example conservation agriculture we have made some investments there and also smart farming and in order to cope with all the future future tendencies and also to become more sustainable in long term we have made large investments in the last few years in these sectors as well and uh more importantly maybe in today's context is the fact i have to mention the fact that i am also a some sort of in some way a policy maker because i am a member and also an employee well my far farm is a member but i am employing the largest farmers ngo in latvia which is farmers parliament or in latvians and exile which is the first logo on the presentation as you can see and since young farmers usually tend to do more than one thing simultaneously i am also an active member in young farmers club in latvia there therefore i'm also heavily fighting for the interests of young farmers of latvia and on the right hand side you can see a picture from the event that we actually did organize together with our estonian and lithuanian colleagues in brussels i believe it was in in december 2019 which was a protest in order to at least achieve a closer uh average direct payment amount to the european average so that was a good event over there and good cooperation with our baltic colleagues and uh of course since in our organization we have a large and structured office each one of the employees have their own responsibilities and in one way or another it has turned out in a way that my responsibilities are include an active involvement in eu policy of course mainly cap but also others some other processes that involve farming in them and after that i have to keep an eye on the way that these regulations and directives are implemented on the national level here in latvia and of course on the lower part of the slide you can also see some prior covet pictures from meetings with other commissioners on the left hand side there is a phil hogan which is a former agri commissioner on the and on the right hand side also the mr weichikowski which is the current agree commissioner but when starting to tackle today's topic i would like to formulate it in a rather different way because as we all know there are these big questions of science for example how do we stop the climate change are we alone in the universe etc and i could just go on and on for uh four minutes i would like to say that there are also these big questions of farming that we have to tackle to in order to achieve a long-term sustainability in agriculture and one of the one of these big questions and maybe it's even the most important one is what do we do with the young farmers and how do we keep them in rural areas as well as farms and i actually did a research on google maybe not the best way to do a research but i did it anyways and unfortunately i concluded that this question is usually very heavily politicized so both the ngos and the political parties or interest groups will always address this question in a coat that seems more appropriate to their grounds and their beliefs for example if you will ask the organic farmers organization how do they see the young farmers in the future they will most certainly answer that it's a hundred percent organic farming if you have the traditional farmers most probably they will say that well it's the business as usual they have to keep up with the practices that that their parents and grand grandparents used prior to them when it comes to the policy makers it's not very different because you know the political spectrum is very polarized and we have different ideologies and beliefs and usually i tend to see that each each political party also address this very insensitive questions in their own manner but in ideal world uh world as i believe that this question should and would be answered by the young farmers themselves because we as young farmers will be the ones that we that will keep uh doing business in farming uh areas that will will actually live in a countryside so therefore this is primarily the question of uh young farmers themselves and in order to achieve the question of this the to achieve the answer to this big question of farming i actually did a survey within the young farmers club and asked them what are the main five things five or six things that in your opinion would be the most important in order for you to stay in the rural areas and become a farmer so these are the answers that i got and interestingly enough the first answer was money and this actually makes very much sense to me because our youth will stay in rural areas only as long as they can guarantee themselves and their families as well the same level of lifestyle as their friends have in the cities and uh in order to guarantee that well it's basically you you need final financial resources so that means you have to make money in farming as well and i believe that almost nobody will stay in rural areas out of pure empathy and love towards countryside so that would be very important to tackle the money issue and secondly i just couldn't agree more with this point is that we have to deal with the lack of prestige that farming uh has in general because successful people and also younger people want to have successful careers and unfortunately being a farmer does not seem to sound very prestigious especially with the constant bashing and bullying from different irrational green organizations i actually think that we are uh sadly but going away from this point rather than going towards it and also there were some points of certainty or lack of it also the infrastructure and more free time but i will tackle these points later in the presentation so the another big question arises how can we actually achieve these points in a future cfp and the next few slides will be my interpretation and my ideas of uh of achieving these issues so when it comes to money it's quite simple and this this was one of the easiest slice the slice to do because we do also have an experience with these measures in latvia so first of all in this planning period which which is now extended for two years but in general the period uh reaching from 2014 to 2020 all young farmers of latvia actually received an additional 60 euro support for the first hectares of their farm we are currently in in the ministry of agriculture of latvia planning to prolong this activity and also in the future the farmers could get the additional amount of money for the hectares but i have to admit that there is a large discussion going on about the fact that it quite quite often it negatively impacts the rent prices of the agricultural land because well if you receive additional amount of money per hectare you will most probably just try to get get to get more land than than you had before and if you increase the rent prices well then you are not the winner because the whole region starts to pay more and the actual actual beneficiaries are the people that don't own the land not the young farmers but currently it seems that we are going to keep this measure as well in the next planning period and even more more important i have to say in the from experience of latvia as the financial encouragement for taking over their parents farms for example in this period it was possible for young farmers to apply for a grant which is not payable which is a money that you don't have to pay back and it was also a quite high amount i believe it was 40 000 euros and this measure was uh i would say highly desired by young farmers so this is one of the things that the ministry of latvia is planning to keep keep in the next period period as well and uh last but not least are the financial incentives for young farmers to develop their businesses and these could be implemented in investment or leader projects as additional points for young farmers when narrating all the projects or also some additional intensities for example if you want to build a farm and you're a young farmer you would get additional five percent or or more so this could be something uh under this discussion in the next period in the ministry of latvia so but then we have to tackle also some questions that are not that straightforward and one of them is the prestige of the farming as such and if we touch up to this question of prestige i honestly do think that the part of the question is in our own hands as young farmers because we do have to break the stereotypes that people do have that for example uh farmers are uneducated and untidy persons working with forks and blowing the land with the horses uh but then the question is how do how do we do that how do we change this mindset of society well i would say that maybe just maybe the potential answer and solution to this problem could be seen overseas in the united states of america as well as canada because personally i have seen a spike of young farmers that are doing podcasts and vlogs and influencers and actually making money out of these activities so on the right hand side you can see two examples of of this sort of practices and the second part of the question i would say that lies in the hands of eu and institutions and the capabilities of them because it is a increasing concern of mind that this movement towards saying bad things about agriculture and blaming farmers for every single thing that is bad with the world uh that's a growing problem definitely and i don't see any regulations in this field yet so this would be something that would be have to would have to be solved on a very high level but if we focus on the instruments that the future cap currently holds then i would i would like to say and this is also a thing that we have had a discussion about them in ministry of agriculture of latvia is that there is actually a potential to promote the farming and agriculture as such because in the in the past we have had some promotion programs with the cap resources for organic farming and beekeeping and etc and vegetables there were many sectors that applied for this support but if we could agree with the ministries and all the other ngos that we would actually need a large campaign towards promoting a promotion of the agriculture in general that would be highly beneficial i really do believe that another question that i didn't tackle before is the certainty and this is also something that i very personally feel on myself because as we all know there are many very ambitious uh strategies implemented not implemented but presented in a european commission and one of them apart from the green deal is the farm from farm to fork strategy which is responsible for the agriculture sector in context of the green deal so i really do think that many of the objectives and goals of this strategy in one way or another another contradict each other for example if one of the points says that i as a pro farmer has had to reduce the plant protection products i'm completely all right with that i'm willing to do that but in the same time i do have to reduce the tillage of the soil and implement these technologies such as no-till or striptale seeding therefore if you have studied agronomy even even for a few years in your life you know that if you don't incorporate all the prep crop residues in the soil then you will have to somehow tackle these issues of weeds of fungi of of pests therefore they are not something that that you can implement uh complementary it's one way or another or another and this is the biggest issue that farmers do not know in which direction they should develop because those goals are let's say on the on the each on their own uh side of the room if i must say so this is one thing that really has to be done in the future cap the priorities for each farm have to be clearly defined and since member states actually do have a large freedom in developing their own eco-schemes and agri-environmental and climate measures i believe that member states should heavily work in their cap strategic plans to clearly define the targets for each each type of the farm for example if my farm does not own a lot of organic soils then most probably the main goal of my farm would be to reduce the plant protection products but if on the other side of latvia there is a farm similar to mine which has a lot of carbon rich soils then maybe these farms should apply for the echo scheme which uh which would cover the incentive cost of the minimal soil disturbance and carbon sequest sequestration in these areas so this is one of the big issues that has to be tackled in the in the strategic plans of each member state and also the infrastructure which is a big one because by using cap instruments we can influence the instructor infrastructure in some way but i really do not believe that this is the main instrument in achieving the goals that young farmers want in regards to the infrastructure in in countryside because in this period we have invested a lot of money it's more than 100 million in the roads in rural areas and we actually see a huge development of the local roads but this is not something that will in future may be entirely covered by the cap money and it would be more in the scope of national budgets in other eu funds also the leader projects because this is something that is very very very significant for the small farms the farm that do not own that much of agricultural land because this is one of the tools that they can diversify their businesses and also this the leader project doesn't don't include the businesses only it is also for the well-being of the rural citizens as well so for example in my village i see that there are some children playgrounds built by the leader project which is all contributing positively towards the infrastructure change and also which is a big discussion on the eu level since i've known from certain working parties on brussels is the broadband because if the future comes becomes more digitalized and since as a result of kobit we do see that we can easily do all the necessary things for our jobs from our homes even in the rural areas then the internet coverage is something that has to be dealt with because although latvia is one of the leaders in the internet coverage in europe and also the internet speed there are still many regions that you simply will not get to get a sufficient amount of speed and this is also important in regards to the digital farming because if we do want to use live stream data let's say from the satellites or use maps or gps we do have to have this services available and last but not least in the free time because we have to understand that young farmers as millennials and the other generations will not and will never go back to the forks and horses the farming the modern farmer has to be interesting for the young farmers and also let's say the modern farming has to ease the burden of the farming so in order to do that i do see some potential instruments within the future cfp on how to achieve this goal as well for example in the rural development plan in this period we have in that we invested a lot of resources for farm modernization such as for for example dairy farms they are buying a lot of these milking robots if i call them correctly and this is actually solving two issues at once because we do see that in rural areas it is harder and harder to get the employees the workforce is lagging behind the development of the industry therefore it would potentially solve this issue and also the farmers they do get more free time because well the robotics do the majority of the work and the same things goes with the organic farms for example you don't have to manually uh unlead the crops with your hands but you can just let's say buy a robotic techniques and do it do it in that way so this is something that will definitely have to be continued in the future cfp also in the ministry of latvia so this is something we are heavily relying on and in the same time while the in support in the investment projects is important it is also important that farmers do implement these technologies that they have bought because we have some i would say very sad and then unhappy experiences in latvia that farmers do by some sort of quite quite expensive piece of machinery something from these digital technologies and they simply do not use it because of the complexity of these things so this is something this is a place where the echo schemes could actually come into play and give some financial incentive for the farmers to use these new technologies and this also goes in hand in hand with uh with a keys and consultation services because if the farmer is lacking in the in the way of knowledge of implementing these technologies the cap is the right tool in order to educate the farmers and make the farming more sustainable in long term so but to sum this up i would have to say that the future cip can actually solve many of the farmers that at least latvian young farmers club indicate it so that could be the con continuation of the additional support from the direct payments also some rational and evidence-based eco schemes in other environmental climate measures and uh of course since the technology is rapidly developing and maybe the young farmers quite often are the ones that are not that sufficient with the financial resources then some additional support uh through throughout the investments and leader could be of a high value there as well as we still have to although this is mainly in in hands of the farmers themselves but we have to promote the agriculture because it was it is quite awful if for example me as a young farmer i have to wake up every morning with a fear inside of me that uh farming will today again get bashed by green activists and i will feel as a as a very bad person although i am actually producing food for the people to eat so the thing that i would like to say is that young farmers have to work hard together with the national ministries in order to include all of these points in the future cfp and the in and in the strategic plans so this is the only way the young farmers can move forward and of course we do also have to work on the eu level maybe as a members of seizure because there are also some issues that have to be dealt with on the eu level which could be one of them could be agribashing which is something of a high importance and growing and also lack of uncertainty in within these within these new and ambitious eu policies so very shortly that's it for me and as i understand that there will also be a panel discussion and if you have any questions you can either email me or call me or address them to me in today's panel discussion so thank you

2021-03-28 23:39

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