Young farmers urged to take lead in co-ops

Ángel Villafranca, President of Cooperativas Agro-alimentarias de Espana.

Young farmers can ensure their own future profitability by playing a lead role in the co-operative movement, according to the president of Spain’s leading agri co-op.

Co-operativas Agro-alimentarias de Espana president Ángel Villafranca, has called on young farmers to lead the democratic governance of their co-operatives.

He was addressing the topic ‘Young farmers and tomorrow’s agri-food co-operatives’ at the Cogeca Business Forumin Valencia, Spain.

“The main challenge facing young people is the profitability of agriculture, they need competitive and viable farms, and that is linked to business projects, fit to size,” he said.

“That is why co-ops with a clear strategy and future plans are the best option for European producers. We have to respond to these young people who will soon be the leaders of our co-ops, and respond to producers’ needs and to design tomorrow’s agriculture through the active participation of young farmer-members in the democratic governance of their co-operatives.”

More than 300 participants from 24 EU member states were at the forum, most of whom were young farmers.

Cogeca co-hosted the event with Co-operativas Agro-alimentarias de Espana. The young farmers present discussed strategies to sustain a viable future for farmers, better delivery for consumers, and a well-functioning food chain.

Cogeca president Thomas Magnusson said: “Young farmers, young men and women, are the lifeblood of tomorrow’s agri-food sector and agri co-ops empower them to cope with future challenges. Agri co-ops need young farmers. Young farmers need agri co-operatives. It is a perfect match to collectively design tomorrow’s agri-food sector.”

Co-operativas Agro-alimentarias de Espana is the collective body for 3,800 Spanish agri co-ops, with over 1m members, directly employing around 96,000 workers and with an overall annual turnover of €26bn.

Copa-Cogeca represents the interests of 40,000 EU farmer co-ops, including the Irish group Icos. The Copa-Cogeca-affiliated co-ops collectively employ around 660,000 people across Europe and with a global annual turnover in excess of €300bn.

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