Last week I met with the European Court of Auditors at the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
The Auditors Report demonstrated that the alarming decrease in farming population between 2005 to 2013 from 14.5 million to 10.70 million across Europe.
In the same period the number of young farmers decreased from 3.3 million to 2.3 million over the same period.
A young farmer is defined as a farmer up to 44 years of age.
The Audit committee expressed their view that the decline is very concerning and policy decisions need to be made to arrest this rapid decline.
The European Court of Auditors were also very critical of the Rural Development Programme. It concluded that the programmes were too complex, the process was too lengthy and were insufficiently focused on results.
I understand that the European Commission have accepted the recommendations. I hope that this report will mean the programme like the Leader Programme will be adapted to become less complex and more focussed on results.