Ladies and gentlemen,
Congratulations on this great initiative. It reflects very well on the sector that you were able to come together to agree this Code of Conduct.
We all know that data is one of the “hot topics” in the EU policy bubble at the moment, and your contribution is a very welcome attempt to demonstrate the specific situation of the agri-food sector in relation to data sharing.
The fact that you were the first sector to come forward with such a contribution is a great credit to you all.
Clearly the challenge is not only to generate data but to utilize and share it in a smart and fair way.
In agriculture the era of big data is upon us, and it is important that we get this right. It will be a pre-condition for further modernising our sector and to make progress in making precision agriculture the rule and not the exception.
I see marvellous new technologies and data-driven solutions every week in my work. When I visited the JRC in Italy last year we explored the possibility of using satellite technology to assist in farm controls, which could eliminate a huge layer of costly bureaucracy.
Last July I visited the Innovation Campuses of John Deere and Claas in Germany, and they are making astonishing strides in on-farm precision agriculture.
At the end of March European the European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Monsanto by Bayer.
The commitments submitted by Bayer to address some of the competition concerns include a commitment to grant a licence to its entire global digital agriculture product portfolio and pipeline products to ensure continued competition on this emerging market.
From an agri-food perspective, digital solutions have the potential to transform the efficiency and sustainability of holdings of all sizes. And data availability and sharing is fundamental to their success.
We need to protect the farmer in relation to the data they generate. Transparency and fairness must be built into all system from the start.
Farmers must have access to the data they share and safeguards in place to protect their data output. If we get this right from the start, we can avoid a situation where we are forced to take retroactive measures later on, as happened recently with UTPs in the food supply chain.
As we move towards a more modern and more climate-friendly CAP, technological and data-driven solutions will be more important than ever.
To reach this Promised Land, we need better broadband, connectivity and infrastructure. We need improved advisory services and access to training for farmers. We need deeper synergies between the CAP and other EU policies, notably Research & innovation.
There is a lot of potential, but we need to invest to make this potential into reality; we need to invest in people, in ideas and in businesses. We need to support digital infrastructure but we also need to empower farmers and other rural citizens to develop on and off-line solutions.
Your Code of Conduct is an important milestone, so let me conclude by once more congratulating you and thanking you for this excellent initiative.