There were 10.8 million farm managers in the EU-28 agricultural sector in 2013.  3.3 million farm managers in the EU-28 were aged 65 or over, which was approximately 3 out of every 10. The most common age band for farm managers was that covering managers aged 65 or over, and an absolute majority of farm managers in the EU-28 were aged 55 or over, which means they were approaching or beyond the regular pension age.

Agricultural co-operatives rise from family farms and contribute to their preservation and future development. In most co-operatives across the EU, there are very few young people or women among the board members or management staff, for that reason, the active participation of farmers is highly valued, as future managers that can ensure their continuity and their gender-balance in board positions.

The Issue

There is a lack of involvement and participation of young farmers (men and women) in the management of their own farms and in the day to day activities of the co-operative.

The generational shift is not guaranteed because the younger farmers are not aware of the importance of the co-operative structure for the sustainability of their farms.

There is a need to work on the promotion of co-operative culture and values to enhance the knowledge of young generations of farmers (women and men) about the functioning of the co-operatives in order to change this situation and thus guarantee a better and sustainable future for all.

Project Aims

The LeadFarm Project aims to get a generational and gender balance in the co-operative agricultural sector through strengthening the capabilities of young generation of farmers (men and women) in order to ensure the generational shift in their family farms and co-operatives.

In addition, this project will review the communications and engagement structures with young Farmers to establish the best way to engage with young farmers.

Specific Objectives

The specific objectives of the LeadFarm Project are to:

  • Provide innovative training to young farmers (women and men) to improve their knowledge about the co-operative and its areas of operation ensuring the generational shift in the future.
  • Promote co-operative culture and values to provide a better understanding of the co-operative to the young farmers increasing their level of involvement and commitment. This engagement will allow a better and deeper involvement of young farmers in the co-operative sector.
  • Strengthen business skills to develop the farmer’s career and the farm family.
    Promote gender balance in co-operative’s board of directors and other co-operative bodies.

Project Outcomes

The foreseen outcomes of the LeadFarm Project are:

  • Innovative shared training contents about Basic Farm Management
  • Innovative shared training contents about co-operative culture and values
  • 1 open-source ICT platform to support learning with interactive management of contents and tools.
  • 6 Co-operative games to work co-operative values
  • 1 Virtual Training course for trainers (Training of Trainers)
  • 4 National Pilot Training Sessions with final beneficiaries held in Ireland, Spain, France, Latvia.
  • 3 Seminars of presentation of intellectual products developed in Spain, France and Latvia,
  • 1 Final Conference held in Ireland through which the final results of the project will be disseminated and capitalise on.
  • 2 Blended mobilities for young farmers and women farmers.

Project Impact

The foreseen Impacts of the LeadFarm Project are to:

  • Provide the agri-food co-operative sector with new and innovative training contents and tools for fostering knowledge in Basic farm management and Co-operative culture and values among their younger members (women and men).
  • Improve and update pedagogical, methodological and procedural skills and technical knowledge of participating organisation’s trainers, especially of organisations offering Vocational Educational Training (VET) contents to co-operatives.
  • Update the technological and pedagogical knowledge of trainers in participating organisations about the offer of new innovative training tools and resources available.
  • Increase the quality and accessibility of the VET offer in the agri-food co-operative sector.