On May 4, Minister Chung Hwang-keun of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs visited a smart farm run by young farmers (Agricultural Corporation Mujuone) located in Anseong-myeon, Muju-gun, Jeollabuk-do. The visit was organized to check the progress of the government’s policy to foster young farmers and develop smart agriculture, one of the key national tasks, marking the first year of the Yoon Suk Yeol administration, and to hear the voices of young farmers, who are the leaders of agriculture in the future.
The government set “turning agriculture into an industry that drives future growth” as one of the key national tasks and laid out the goal of “nurturing 30,000 young farmers who will lead agricultural innovation and creating an innovative ecosystem in the agri-food sector.” To achieve this, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA) announced “The 1st Basic Plan for Fostering Young Farm Successors and Young Farmers (2023-2027)” in October 2022.
It is the first 5-year basic plan established to proactively nurture young farmers. Building on this basic plan, MAFRA is carrying out comprehensive measures to support initial income, funds, farmland, and housing to foster 30,000 young farmers.
First of all, the Ministry doubled the number of recipients for the Agricultural Settlement Support Project, which provides settlement subsidies for income stabilization in the early stages of settlement, from the previous year, and also increased the amount of financial support. In addition, to alleviate the financial burden of young people lacking funds for investment, the repayment period of policy funds was extended by 10 years from that of 2022, and the loan limit was also raised.
* Support for Agricultural Settlement: (recipients) 2,000 people in 2022 → 4,000 people in 2023, (subsidies) up to 1 million won per month in 2022 → up to 1.1 million won per month in 2023
* Funds to Nurture Young Farm Successors: Increased repayment period (15 years → 25 years), reduced interest rate (2% → 1.5%),
raised the ceiling (300 million → 500 million)
In addition, MAFRA secured farmland stockpiled by farmland banks as much as possible to meet the demand of young people and introduced various measures to supply farmland, such as startup complexes. The Ministry is also planning to improve the settlement conditions in rural areas by building more Rural Homes for Youth, which are rental housing complexes including childcare, cultural, and leisure facilities.
* Rural Homes for Youth: 5 places in 2022 → 9 places in 2023
Meanwhile, the Ministry provides support for rental smart farms where young people can rent them for 3 years and work in farming, and is making dedicated efforts to expand smart agriculture by providing long-term training courses at Smart Farm Incubation Centers.
On this day, Minister Chung Hwang-keun took a close look at the smart farm cultivation facilities, automatic harvesters and sorters, and encouraged the employees. After that, the Minister presided over a meeting with young farmers and attentively listened to the opinions of young farmers.
At the meeting, young farmers attended mentioned the significant expansion of the support for agricultural settlement as one of the key achievements of the government. They evaluated that young farmers suffering from a decrease in income in the early stages of settlement were able to ease income anxiety to some extent, with the number of recipients doubled compared to that of the previous year. In particular, one attendee said that as the parental income level was excluded from the eligibility criteria starting this year, the participant was able to receive farming settlement subsidies that the person had not been able to receive.
* Income level: (in 2022) excluded from support recipients if the income of applicants and their parents is above a certain threshold → (in 2023) parental income level is no longer taken into account; an individual’s income is the single factor to be considered
In addition, young farmers positively evaluated the expansion of loan support, mentioning that considerably expanded amount and period of policy funds for farmland purchase and facility installation are helpful, as it has become easier to secure the necessary expenses for agricultural management and the burden of repayment has been reduced.
Minister Chung said, “By fostering 30,000 young farmers within the term of the current administration, we will secure the sustainability of agriculture and rural areas and lay the foundation for developing agriculture into an industry for future growth. We will make efforts to devise policies beneficial for young farmers by reflecting the voices of the participants at the meeting today.”