The Newbie Consortium looks back at a successful four-day program in Ljubljana. The title of the event is probably a very good summary of what we actually achieved during these days: creating environments for dialogue on new entrants in farming. A dialogue requires people to be willing to share ideas and listen to each other. And that is exactly what happened in Ljubljana.
A first dialogue took place on Monday, 3rd of January, where the Newbie consortium organized their internal meeting. The partners discussed successes realized, obstacles encountered as well as the challenges ahead for the consortium. Newbie certainly facilitates the dialogue at the national level on new entrants in farming. But Newbie is a European project, which allows to compare and learn across member states. In 2019, the first cross visits took place. At the meeting in Ljubljana, we evaluated these visits. Comparing the situation across countries, we find many similarities, but also several striking differences for example on the supporting environment of new entrants, the level of bureaucracy they face, the standards they have to meet, the educational systems, … As a summary, the consortium looks back on 2 successful years, but also formulates the ambition to be at least as productive in the 2 years of cooperation ahead.
A second dialogue took place on Tuesday, 4th of January. Over 80 stakeholders participated in this event. A strong delegation of the European Young Farmers (CEJA) made this a unique opportunity for intensive dialogue. Furthermore, a delegation of policy makers – both from the Slovene government and from DG AGRI – enriched this dialogue. Darja Majkovič, representative of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food in Slovenia, set the scene of the day by emphasizing the importance of young farmers. Three inspiring keynotes provided input for discussion. First, Zvonka Jelenc (DG AGRI) provided an overview of financial support tools available for young farmers. Our second keynote, Alenka Zapušek shared her story as a new entrant, including the hurdles and how passion and motivation helped to realize her dreams. Last keynote speaker was Jannes Maes, president of CEJA. He stressed the diversity of new entrants in farming, and the fact that everyone in the sector has unique ideas and background to share. ‘Farmers learn most from other farmers. So let’s stimulate the dialogue’. And that message was the key driver for the rest of the Newbie conference, where the experiences of new entrants as well as initiatives across Europe to support new entrants composed the basis for dialogue.
Later in the afternoon, four Newbie Award winners were honored. Lynn Cassells, Scottish Award Winner 2019, explained us what she means with ‘my wealth is my health’. Maja Turinek, Slovene Award Winner 2019, showed us that her motivation for farming is even bigger than her frustration with bureaucracy. Michael Stücke, German Newbie Award Winner 2019 and shepherd from Westphalia amazed the audience with the amount of side-products you can derive from sheep farming. And finally, the Slovene team announced their Newbie Award Winner 2020: Domen Virant Domen animated the audience with a story that began like a fairy tale.
The intensive day ended up with a very nice Balkan dinner and a drink in the wonderful city of Ljubljana.
On the third day, field visits were scheduled. Programs of the field visits are on the website and first impressions of this inspiring visits can be found in the photo carrousel below.
The fourth day of the Newbie event focused on research. What research is needed in the domain of new entrants? What data are already available? How can we further stimulate cooperation between European consortia. For this purpose, the Newbie consortium also invited representatives from other consortia, including Salsa, Sure-farm and Ruralization.
In summary, the Newbie consortium looks back at a very successful meeting, and closed the intensive four-day event with the ambition to keep the spirit of the dialogue alive.