Agriculture has not yet caught up with the digital revolution, farming leaders and scientists were told in Belfast yesterday by European farm commissioner, Phil Hogan.
Addressing the opening session of the European Federation of Animal Science (EAAP) 67th annual meeting, the commissioner said that while there is plenty of evidence of innovation in the farming sector, the industry “must do more” and must do it “faster”.
“Smart and digital agriculture holds many promises for a more sustainable, productive, and competitive EU farm sector,” he said. “We have seen solutions that have the potential to significantly improve resource efficiency, animal health, carbon footprint, and farmers’ position in the supply chain.
“We must also continue developing new ideas and solutions, while also encouraging a wider uptake in the broader farm community.”
Mr Hogan (pictured above) further commented that the European Commission will maintain its innovative and digital priorities in the years ahead, adding: “And I encourage you all to play your part”.
Northern Ireland’s agriculture minister, Michelle McIlveen, took a similar theme in her welcoming address to EAAP’s 1400 delegates, telling them that she has “ambitious hopes” for the local livestock sector and that her department is looking to science to help support farm policy and innovation.
“In areas where scientists, advisors and local industry partners work together, we create an uninterrupted flow of knowledge and innovation from the research laboratory to the farmyard,” she said. “That gives us a strong edge in competitive global markets.”
As a result, Northern Ireland’s livestock sector is moving closer to being a world-leader, thanks to the use of the latest research, technology and genetic testing.
“These aspects give us a cutting-edge when it comes to improved production and use of resources as well as enhanced animal welfare,” she added. “I have no doubt that the science developments raised at this week’s conference will help create opportunities for our next generation of farmers to work in a modern, information-driven and advanced sector.”
The EAAP meeting’s science sessions run throughout today and tomorrow.