Will new CAP allow farming digital innovation?

by Claire Richaud

The current state of negotiations of the Common agriculture policy (CAP) post 2020 is currently on hold in view of the European elections and the general institutional change happening in Brussel

This allows us to take a step aside and reflect on the upcoming challenges for the EU agricultural system. 

The European Commission published in early March 2019 a draft declaration untitled “A smart and sustainable digital future for European agriculture and rural areas.” The study makes very clear that the future of the European agriculture system lies in its ability to embrace digitalisation.  

In this regard, the European agriculture system already experienced a thorough transformation throughout the past years. From drone systems controlling pest infestations to apps providing tracking systems of the sanitary conditions of stocks, the farming system drastically evolved. Farmers also adopted practical digital tools for their daily work. Today in Germany, according to the Commission, more than half of all farmers use digital solutions. 

Yet the European farming system is still highly challenged by the global agricultural market, along with the increased demand for sustainability, improved nutrition, and exponential quantities. Quality of products, of soils, food waste and losses through inefficient supply chain management also have a major impact on human health and environmental sustainability.  

The issue of rural areas in European remains a major threat to the European food self-sufficiency. The number of our farmers is plummeting, as well as their quality of life. Hence, the renewal of farmers generations is not yet guaranteed in already asphyxiated rural areas. Digitalization of the farming system provides answers to address some of these challenges by increasing quality of life, simplifying daily work, and woo new generations back to the fields. Smart farming also attracts investors and developers: it gives meaning and create links between the urban and rural populations. 

The current framework of the new CAP however offers to the Member-States the ability to make use of the CAP budget following their diverse domestic priorities. A homogeneous investment of the European Member-States in the development of agriculture research and smart farming has to be a priority in their national strategy plans.  

The EU manufacturers of agricultural machinery (CEMA) have already called on Member-States to signal that a “clear commitment” to the digitisation of European agriculture was the only way to face the current environmental and economic challenges. It is now crucial that Member States realize that their support and funding of innovation and digitalisation of farming will determine the fate of European agriculture. 

Should you want to learn more about smart farming and food production digitalization, feel free to contact RPP Group and our Consultant in Paris, Claire Richaud at c.richaud(at)rpp-group.com