Açoriano Oriental
Young farmers say agriculture is at risk

At "Excellent Producer Award" ceremony, the president of the Association of Young Farmers of São Miguel mentioned the lack of a "strategic plan" to bring sustainability to the sector in the Azores

Autor: Paulo Faustino

The president of the Associação dos Jovens Agricultores Micaelenses (AJAM) fears for the future of agriculture in the Azores due to the lack of a "strategic plan" for the sector and the fact that it is already suffering from a "problem of generational sustainability". Nélio Miranda's concern was expressed at the "Excellent Producer Award" ceremony, which took place at the Boviniculture Center in Arribanas (Arrifes), presided over by the head of the Azorean executive, José Manuel Bolieiro.

At the time, the AJAM leader pointed the finger at "this and other governments" for the fact that there is no such plan to sustain agricultural activity in the region, warning that "if there is no replacement (of human resources) one day (the activity) will end" in the Azores.

There are several problems, according to Nélio Miranda: young people abandoning farming, 78% of whom are between the ages of 16 and 34; the need to increase the price of milk paid for production; a lack of manpower; a high tax burden; banks without adequate interest rates to support farming; a lack of basic infrastructure, such as water and electricity, which causes farms to lose thousands of euros a month; and a delay in opening applications for investment projects for young farmers. In this last regard, Miranda said that so far no competitions have been opened for 2023 and there are still no replies to applications submitted in 2022.

The host of the "Excellent Producer Award" wants young farmers to have "quality of life and income" in the future and not to become "slaves" to their activity, noting that agriculture "is the force that moves and feeds the world".

At the time, the president of the Agricultural Federation of the Azores (FAA) intervened to call on the regional government to provide farmers with "compensatory aid" so that they can pay the Single Social Tax (TSU). According to Jorge Rita, "young people need to be compensated with increases" to keep them in the business and make them feel attracted to entrepreneurship. At the same time, the president of the FAA believes that attracting young people to agriculture should start at an early age, by promoting this pedagogy in schools, and that a "positive signal" to young people can also come from banks through the fees they apply to the sector.

For his part, Eduardo Vasconcelos, from Fromageries Bel Portugal, SA, advocates the implementation of an effective "joint plan", involving farming and industry, to better articulate the two sectors.

Also, the Regional Secretary for Agriculture and Rural Development announced that, by the end of the year, competitions will be opened under the Recovery and Resilience Plan (PRR) for investments in agricultural innovation. António Ventura also revealed that the Azores Agri-Food Observatory has already been set up, under the RRP, to support fair pricing in the sector, and will be implemented in 2024.

He defended the creation of a legal system that values farmers and their products in the Azores, while noting that, for the future, the Common Agricultural Policy Strategic Plan (PEPAC) will have a "different design" and will be prepared to act more quickly.

José Manuel Bolieiro defends path of "sustainability" and "innovation"

The President of the Regional Government acknowledged the merits of Azorean farmers, challenging them to follow the path of "sustainability, innovation and adaptation to new technologies".

"The reduction in quantity is a sign of the new times, it is not a drama," stressed José Manuel Bolieiro at the opening of the 18th edition of the "Excellent Producer Award", which took place at the Boviniculture Center (Arribanas). José Manuel Bolieiro defends "equity" and "fair prices in the value chain" in order to guarantee the sustainability of the sector in the region.

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