Actually, the root of the problem is that there are far too many farmers in the EU.
That's too broad a statement. If we look at France, then it is correct. Smallholdings everywhere. I don't know but visually Poland looks similar to France with many small holdings.
That's correct. Smallholdings are ubiquious in Poland. And smallholdings tend to be inefficient for the simple fact that they cannot take advatage of economy of scale. Smallholdings can be efficient and very profitable, but for that, they have to take advantage of numerous other economic strategies which require superb knowledge of the market and considerable technical skill in intensive agriculture. The small-scale operations you see in Poland depend almost entirely on extensive agriculture, which works most efficiently with very large farms.
However, there is still a glut of farmers everywhere. Less accute in Britain, perhaps, because of the historical clearences, but pretty much the rule everywhere else.
DominicB: that require hard work and sacrifice.
You are talking about the realities of farming with that statement.
When taken out of context, as you did, it may appear that way. However, you divorced the statement from the words "long-sighted", and also from the context of education. By hard work, I mean hard mental work.
Sadly, in that context, many farmers are terribly work-shy.
There are, fortunately, exceptions. In France, for instance, many of the smallholdings are very profitable because the produce high-quality, high-value-added artisan products like cheese and wine, as well as high-quality organic staples and produce at a premium price, for which there is a ready market. In Poland, the per capita disposable income is much lower than in France, so the market for high-quality, but premium-priced, products is limited. However, some farmers have taken advantage of the market next door in Germany, and the number of profitable specialist intensive smallholdings in Poland is slowly increasing.
An example of this is the father of one of my friends. After the transformation in the early 90s, he went to agricultural academy, got degree in organic farming and farm management, learned German and Dutch, and then started farming Cornelian cherries (a fruit that is completely unrelated to cherries).
Smart guy. Cornelian cherries are tasty (one of my favorite fruits) and HIGHLY nutritious, and are highly sought after by Germans as a juice additive. Furthermore, they suffer from no diseases, aren't attacked by any pests, and are very modest in their nutritional requirements, so they are an ideal crop for organic farming. Last of all, they require little care and tending to thrive; in effect, they grow like weeds. That greatly reduces time and money spent. In his abundant spare time, he consults otehr farmers who are interested in going into organic farming, which is very profitable in itself. Last of all, Cornelian cherries regularly and dependably bear an enormous harvest, which makes establishing long-term relations with customers easier. Last of all, he extracts the juice on site and sells it frozen in Germany and Holland, and now Denmark as well, where the market is especially high for organic frozen Cornelian cherry juice concentrate.
He's taking advantage of the fact that he's able to sell a product in Germany, Holland and Denmark that cannot be profitably produced in those countries because of high land and labor prices. The amount of land he cultivates is more than doubling every year, and he's breaking out into other high-demand organic fruits like sea buckthorn (also a juice additive). He also has started recovering the pulp from the juicing process and selling it to a Dutch vitamin company as raw material for nutritional supplements. In the off-season for Cornelian cherries, he juices and freezes juices of other organic fruits for other farmers, a lot of which he distributes himself. Next year, he's opening up a nursery that sells saplings of fruit cultivars that are ideal for organic farming and gardening (in partnership with the local agricultural institute). He got a huge grant from the EU for that, and has customers already lined up not only in Poland, but in Germany and Holland, as well.
Best of all, he sent his son, my friend, to college for a good education in organic agricultural engineering and agricultural business management so that his work does not die with him (which hopefully won't be for a long time as he is the same age as me). On top of that, he never stopped educating himself after he graduated, and educates other farmers himself, as well. He also taught practically every blood relative and relative by marriage, and a lot of his neighbors as well, key skills to help him out on the farm, like running the juicer, packaging, grafting, and so on. He put several of them through school, too.
The first seven years, though, when he was studying, was pure hell. Fortunately, he had a good mentor who kept him moving. Otherwise, he would have dropped out. Now, he's mentoring others himself.