Could CAP monies be used to advance the agri-tech revolution on Irish farms?

Small and medium-sized farmers can not be left behind in an agri-tech revolution, warned the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan.

Speaking at today’s Agricultural Science Association (ASA) Conference in Kildare, the former Fine Gael minister said: “We have to accelerate the uptake of innovation and technology in the sector – on farms in particular.

“Innovation solutions, in many cases, already exist; but we need to do more to get them to where they’re needed.”

This raises the real possibility that Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) monies could be used to support the development and advancement of agricultural technologies on farms throughout Ireland and Europe in the coming years.

Commissioner Hogan added: “It won’t be acceptable, in the context of an agri-tech revolution, if small and medium farmers are excluded or are unable to participate because of the need for financial support.

We have to include small-to-medium farms in the agri-tech revolution.

Commenting on CAP simplification, he said: “Later this year, I will launch a European Commission communication on agriculture. This is one year after the initiative was launched by President Juncker in 2016.

“This communication is focused on how we can modernise and simplify existing policy in order to deliver more results for our people, consumers and farmers.”

He continued to say that a number of measures – such as the yellow card system – have been introduced to simplify CAP; but simplification continues to be an ongoing process.

As part of the simplification process, the European Commission sought the input from European citizens in the form of a public consultation. In total, he said, over 323,000 people submitted their views.

“This reflects the fact that European citizens have a huge interest in the quality of European food produced,” he said.