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CEMA President Richard Markwell calls for EU policies to be improved to increase farmer uptake of precision agriculture and digital technology

In his role as President of the European Agricultural Machinery Association (CEMA), Richard Markwell of Massey Ferguson, is encouraging European Common Agricultural Policy reform to focus on innovation and include measures and incentives to help farmers invest in digital technology and equipment.

The Vice President and Managing Director Europe/Africa/Middle East of leading farm machinery brand, Massey Ferguson, has recently been re-elected to a second two-year term of office at CEMA and was invited to present the Association’s latest policy paper at the annual Congress of European Farmers in Athens.

“The next rounds of CAP reform and similar EU finance schemes should favour investment in precision farming and connected tools/services as the solution to both efficient, competitive European agriculture and to ‘green’ farming,” Mr Markwell told Congress delegates. “Such an approach would be much more intelligent for the farming sector in the context of the EU’s environmental targets than the automobile-driven programmes focusing solely on engine emissions. At the same time, it would bring true added value for farmers themselves.”

“EU legislation governing EU farm equipment needs to be differentiated from legislation on automobiles as it frequently generates inappropriately huge costs for our industry for little added value and thus reduces the competitiveness of farmers in the EU,” he underlined.

“Our role at CEMA is to help farmers produce more food, using less labour, with less land, in a sustainable manner at affordable prices,” Mr Markwell stated. “Precision agriculture helps farmers to do this by optimising their input use and maximising their productivity, whilst minimising the impact on the environment. But with less than 25% of farmers in Europe using any form of precision farming, uptake must be increased.”

“In addition, research and development needs to be stepped up to encourage private partnerships to work together on innovative technology and equipment. The EU must work closer with organisations like CEMA to ensure that we have the right equipment, meeting the right standards of environmental protection and security, to ensure a profitable agriculture sector which farmers are able to invest in,” he emphasised.

The Congress of European Farmers was organised by Copa-Cogeca, the European Association of Farmers and Contractors. Among the 500 attendees was Phil Hogan, EU Commissioner for Agriculture together with key members of the EU Commission and Alan Jagoe, President of the European Council of Young Farmers (CEJA).

CEMA is the voice of the European agricultural machinery industry which includes 4,500 manufacturers of agricultural equipment and generates a total turnover of EUR 26 billion. It provides employment for 135,000 people directly in the sector and another 125,000 persons indirectly in the distribution and service network.