The European Union is to invest €1 billion ($1.2 billion) with the aim of making farming more sustainable, food healthier and more diverse and rural territories a better place to live and work. The funds are part of the EU’s Horizon 2020 work program.
The funding is aimed at research and innovation projects that contribute to protecting the ecosystem, nurturing the soils, validating genetic resources and adapting to climate change. Horizon 2020 is the EU progam for research and innovation, and the project funding for the next three years will cover sustainable food security and rural renaissance , with some additional opportunities under the information and communication technologies (ICT) heading .
These projects aim to build on the long-term objectives for EU agriculture research and innovation which are to help the agricultural sector to become smarter, more resilient and environmentally sustainable, and to encourage more young people to get involved in agriculture and rural life and strengthening socio-economic life in rural areas.
Since 2014, agricultural research and innovation programs have been run based on a so-called ‘multi-actor’ approach, where scientists, farmers and other interested parties team up to create solutions to real problems encountered in the field. Over sixty multi-actor projects are already up and running, including 17 thematic networks , showing that this approach can bring in new parties into the broader field of research and innovation.
Elsewhere in Europe, the UK government published a £40 million ($53 million) grants project for investment in farm technology and equipment. The funding is provided through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD). However, the UK government has guaranteed funding for grants if these are agreed and signed before the UK’s departure from the EU, even if the grant agreements continue after the UK has exited the EU.
Grants will be available to help livestock, dairy, arable and horticultural farmers improve farm productivity through investing in new technology, such as robotics, to reduce cost or improve product quality. The funding can be used on diverse investments, from robotic milking machines to green technology. The scheme also offers funds for farmers and food processors to invest in new equipment and machinery to improve the processing of milk, meat and fruit.
Source: European Commission Horizon 2020 & the Depratmnet of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (UK).