MEPs back farm research spend increase

Euro MPs have backed plans to substantially increase spending on research into finding ways to increase food production.

The European Parliament voted on Tuesday (27 September) to step up spending on agricultural research and innovation from 2014 to 2020. MEPs said farmers also needed to be given better access to cutting-edge technologies through greater emphasis being placed on knowledge transfer.

The vote comes after the European Commission proposed in June to increase overall spending on research and innovation by 46% to €80bn for the 2014-2020 budget period.

The proposed increase and the parliament’s vote this week will now feed into the EU’s Horizon 2020 Green Paper, which is expected before the end of the year.

The NFU said the plans were “a breath of fresh air”.

“There has been a chronic under-investment in agricultural research and development for decades, which has resulted in a stagnation of national productivity and a hit on our competitiveness,” said Dawn Howard from the NFU Brussels office.

“It is very positive that MEPs have recognised this by calling to increase spending in the farming sector.”

Ms Howard said it would be churlish not to investigate all the tools available – from natural breeding of plants and livestock to more technical solutions – to help farmers feed the world in a sustainable way.

“Throughout history, agriculture has responded to the demands it has faced with fantastic innovations and techniques to improve productivity and efficiency,” she added.

“Today is no different, which is why we wholeheartedly support these long-overdue moves to step up funding for research and innovation.”