Farm machinery industry and contractor interests across Europe have joined forces in a CAP Reform proposal to provide farmers with a voucher system to support the use of precision agriculture (PA) through the employment of high technology contractor services on farms.
CEMA, the European Farm Machinery Manufacturers Association and CEETTAR, the Organisation of Farm, Rural and Forestry Contractors, have prepared a joint proposal for the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy to allow smaller-scale farmers have cost-effective access to precision agriculture technology through the use of voucher based contractor services.
European research has shown that 25% of European farmers currently have access to PA technology, compared with 98% in the USA and Canada.
While the EU wants to keep its model of small family farms, many are considered not to be sustainable as small farms if they don’t have access to PA as a means of reducing production costs. The proposed voucher option would allow contractors to provide the benefits of PA services that smaller farmers cannot afford to buy.
The European Commission proposes to give a more important role to member states’ authorities in the new CAP, through national strategic plans. CEETTAR believes that the amount of the annual voucher would be calculated on a given percentage of the total cost of the service representing the PA part of it. FCI is the sole Irish member of CEETTAR and is supporting the voucher proposal.