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CEJA column, Issue 38, September 2017

In this month’s regular column from CEJA (European Council of Young Farmers), we hear from its new President, Jannes Maes, a young farmer from Belgium, who was elected to the post on 6 July.

MF: Congratulations on the election which you won by a substantial majority. What are your initial thoughts on your new role?

JM: Having been a Vice-President for two years, I am honoured to be given the chance to lead CEJA in further putting the voice and challenges of young farmers into the debate. Together with a strong team, I’ll work towards clear positions, an open network and strengthened organisation. Building on previous achievements, these must lead to better and equal opportunities for all European young farmers.

MF: What are the mechanics of the election?

JM: It takes place at our annual General Assembly in Brussels. Around 60 young farmers attended the meeting from across Europe and took part in the elections on behalf of their national organisations. In addition, four new CEJA Vice-Presidents were elected - Iris Bouwer from Netherlands, Tomáš Ignác Fénix from Czech Republic, Seán Finan from Ireland and Christoph Daun from Germany – all young farmers covering a wide spectrum of Europe. Indeed, as the new Board we have already held our first meeting at the CEJA secretariat in Brussels where we discussed our shared vision for the organisation, together with the future planning, direction and strategy to achieve it.

MF: What is your background?

JM: I was born in 1991 and grew up on the family dairy, sheep and arable farm in Aalter, East of Flanders. I’ve been passionate about agriculture and horticulture since childhood. I attended secondary agricultural education and then obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Agriculture. Today, I work with my family on the dairy farm, cooperating with other farmers in collecting and processing their milk. For several years, I’ve been an active member of Groene Kring (the largest umbrella organisation for young, Flemish farmers and growers), representing them at regional, national and international levels.

MF: At the General Assembly, outgoing President Alan Jagoe said his goodbyes.

JM: Yes, Alan has done a fantastic job over the last two years. In his farewell speech he underlined his continued commitment to support young farmers in Europe. It’s great that as a member of his former team I am able to carry on the work already begun.

MF: MF’s Campbell Scott made a presentation at the Brussels meeting on digitalisation and how it affects the farming supply chain. Is support from partners like MF important?

JM: For CEJA the support that Massey Ferguson gives to the organisation and to European Young Farmers is significant. It shows MF’s commitment to encourage young people and the generational renewal needed by the agricultural sector. I’m looking forward to reinforcing the cooperation with MF in the coming two years and delighted to be taking over this monthly interview column for the MF website.

For future developments in EU-level young farmer representation, keep a close eye on the CEJA website.

If you would like to get in contact with Jannes Maes or CEJA, email: allusers@ceja.eu

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