How I tried to apply for EU financial support for young farmers

I tried to apply for EU support for young farmers, but I was rejected. Main reason was that counselors assume, my agricultural land 23 ha is not enough to make 14000 EUR annual income. That means I really have no other choice but stone age natural economy.

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EU support for young farmers (people under 40 years of age setting up for the first time as the head of a holding, including those who have already registered their farm in enterprise register not more than 12 months before application) in Latvia this year is maximum 40000 EUR which is 80% of the expenses of the project. So applicant needs to fund the rest 20% from other sources (own money or credit). This activity is combined with early retirement activity. One may include purchase not only of machinery, but also land and cattle. Priority is to less favored areas and projects not associated with milk animal husbandry. One needs agricultural education or at least to be an external student.

My intention was to by a tractor with accessories, a harvester and a mill, 2 cows and 2 horses (for manure) and 5 bee hives. I am 28, I could apply to studies to college right away (I received a note from beekeeping school stating, that all I need to do is to pay 500 EUR) and that would be alright to apply a project. Additionally to that I was thinking about doing social work – accepting youth with behavioral disorders from abroad, where I need foreign language knowledge, to have a family, cattle for kids to take care of and a person with teachers diploma (my mom).

It is only possible to apply only with permission of certified counselors. So I expressed my ideas to agricultural counselors both in parish center and regional center, also visited a seminar with representatives of Rural Support Service (institution, where one enters a project after it is accepted by counselors).

First of all they did not show much interest in me. Reason they stated was that I do not have neither experience, nor education. I told that I do not need formal education for biological farming – I’ve read enough books. Moreover, when I graduated secondary school there was no opportunity to study organic farming, because there was no certification of such in 2002. And if everything else is alright, I will apply to studies in agricultural college and fulfill this formal requirement.

This is where I was told, that even if I had education, then my piece of land 23 ha (230 000 m2) is not enough to fulfil the requirement of annual income not less than 14000 EUR during the third year.

I tried to persuade the counselors, if I do not do only one job there, I will succeed. Even if I have to give this money back, it will not be a problem, because I can invite my relatives to participate in the project with their co-finances. Moreover, I am not going to just to grow grain and sell it for pennies to a mill. I want to make flour and then sell it directly to the people, which would improve my income.

Counselors told me that I alone will not be able to manage even 7 bee hives, not talking about horses and cows. That’s where I said, why I need this money – for tractor and harvester – to do the heavy work. At the moment I am plowing the land with a shovel and that is not a business. Moreover I am unemployed unlike other farmers, that spend only saturday and sunday doing their farming work with intensive methodology (chemistry).

I received an answer, where they said, that tractor and harvester is too expensive for 50000 EUR project, and I may not buy used.

Well, I must say, I do not know, how much do the gadgets cost. There is no info in internet for new gadgets. They told me, they will send me a pricelist, I did not receive to this day. I also tried to email belorussian http://www.mtz-serviss.lv for a pricelist, also no reply.

Other counselor told me to buy some used old Russian tractor T-40. They cost only 1400 EUR (I would give no more than 100 EUR for those more than 20 years overused junk, that consume diesel like monsters, spill oil all around, and break apart just exactly when the weather is the best for doing the work) and the spare parts are cheap. I didn’t say anything about that.  It was just clear for me, that they don’t really care about me. Moreover, why should they. I didn’t even pay them. Government did, but I am not from a government, so…

I am going to rely only on myself and God. 500 EUR that I had to spent for beekeeping school will be used to buy beekeeping stuff maybe even including bees themselves. This money will be more than enough. Then I have 1000 EUR left for young cattle. I need at least young horses next year. The last hope remains direct payments. But I am not going to buy any tractors like this. Because I know that the prices for them are set higher knowing that people get additional money from EU funds.

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About Pavels Melnis

Independent ecology activist, family farmer, gardener and forestkeeper. Musician: violin, guitar, singing. Hobbies: traveling by bicycle, learning to play different music instruments - accordion, piano, recorder flute, harmonica, drums; languages, theology, prehistory, logbuilding, repairing and recycling. Religious. Ecological. Love all things ethnic and traditional.
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