In Europe and the United States there is a need for new generations of farmers and ranchers. In order to ensure sufficient agricultural supply, which accounts for a hefty portion of European and American GDP, measures must be taken to encourage our youth to work in this ever-important economic field. France has proposed solutions to grow the number of agricultural businesses via a start-up aid program dedicated to young agricultural entrepreneurs.
These days, more rural youth are choosing city life over inheriting their parents’ farms. Consequently, the agricultural industry is aging without reassurance of replenishment from a new generation of farmers. In France, the average age of farmers is 47.8. In the US, this average soars to 58.3. Without a revival of interest in agricultural careers among the younger generations, the industry will cease to be sustainable. To combat this worrying trend, France has established a start-up aid program for young agricultural entrepreneurs with the aim of spurring a resurgence of innovative and able-bodied farmers.
How much aid can one receive?
There are three types of aid: the young farmer’s premium (DJA), loans, and benefits. The DJA consists of two lump-sum payments for primary and secondary assets, with differing minimum and maximum amounts depending on the geographic location on the prefecture (Plain areas, less-favored areas, and mountainous areas). The lowest minimum premiums are for plain areas, and cannot fall below a total of 12,000 euros. On the contrary, the highest maximum payments are reserved for mountainous areas and reach a ceiling of 40,000 euros. Reduced-rate loans are also available at an interest rate of 2.5% for farms in plain areas and 1% for start-ups in less-favored and mountainous regions. Available from the date of the grant acceptance for a period of 5 years, these loans are not to exceed the 70,000 euros.
What are the conditions of the aid program?
For starters, you must be between the ages of 18 and 39 to claim aid eligibility. Furthermore, you must hold either an agricultural technician certificate or an operation and management baccalauréat, which is essentially a vocational GED. Once personal eligibility criteria are met, candidates must present a business plan that promises financial autonomy – netting minimum wage or more – after 5 years of start-up aid. Beneficiaries have the option of starting their own business or joining an existing one. It of course goes without saying that there are expectations of the aid recipients. Every beneficiary must stick with farming for a minimum of five years, maintain a detailed ledger, comply with environmental protection regulations and meet minimum animal hygiene and welfare standards within three years.
Where does the money come from?
Responsibility for allocating funds falls on regional Prefectures, within which the Chamber of Agriculture and the Departmental Agricultural Guidance Commission appraise applications for aid. This Commission differs from ministerial offices in that they are comprised of both government and union representatives. Regional and departmental differences aside, every aid program shares the same principal goals: ensuring new generations of competent farmers, maintaining rural populations, and the financial backing of young agricultural entrepreneurs.