The ELO strongly believes that only continuous innovation in the agricultural sector can deliver the results needed for Europe’s land managers; flourishing farm businesses at a time of unstable commodity and energy prices, better results for our ecosystems, and plenty of safe food for Europe’s consumers.
To meet these challenges, the modern farm business should not just embrace the latest tools and technologies, but also work out its own innovative practices. This quest, therefore, does not just take place in the laboratories of agricultural industries, but very much in the fields of our members.
Over the last few years, the EU has shown increased support for integrating the concept of innovation into European policy. In 2013, the European Commission set up the European Innovation Partnership (EIP). This is in addition to the Horizon 2020 programme, which is the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme ever, with nearly €80 billion in funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020). Horizon 2020 is the financial instrument that is implementing the Innovation Union, a Europe 2020 flagship initiative aimed at securing Europe's global competitiveness.
In 2016, the ELO continued to push for more and better access to agricultural innovation. One of the main sticking points remains the continued uncertainty over the legal status of the new suite of plant breeding techniques such as CRISPR. While the recent opinion of the Advocate General of the European Court of Justice shows that there is at least some leeway for these tools, regulatory certainty should be ensured without delay to allow these tools to be used on the field once they are proven to be safe for human health and the environment.
The ELO has been encouraged by the uptake of digital farming, especially the reference to these technologies in the recent CAP Communication. While these tools are exceptionally promising, affordability and rural broadband access remain an issue in Europe.