APPENDIX 3: CALL FOR EVIDENCE|
The House of Lords European Union Committee will
conduct an inquiry, through its Agriculture, Fisheries and Environment
Sub-Committee (Sub-Committee D), into how innovation in EU agriculture
can be encouraged in the context of new challenges such as climate
change, water scarcity and the need to encourage sustainable improvements
in output. The inquiry will be held against the background of
the EU's new Strategy for Growth and Jobs, Europe 2020, in which
innovation is central. It was agreed by the European Council on
17 June 2010 that the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) should
play its part in delivering that strategy. The focus of the Committee's
inquiry is not the upcoming reform of the CAP, although some of
our conclusions may relate to that debate.
There is a relatively well-developed discourse on
the future of the CAP, but this has tended to focus on the architecture
of the policy rather than the flanking measures that might assist
innovation in the sector and thus improve its competitiveness.
The Committee has itself published relevant reports in recent
years, including "The Future of the CAP" (2008),
and "Adapting to Climate Change: EU agriculture and forestry"
In the course of our inquiry into adapting agriculture
and forestry to climate change, we heard some evidence to suggest
that agricultural research capacity has shrunk over several decades
and that, even when the knowledge exists, there appears to be
a significant problem in terms of knowledge transfer. At the same
time, it was clear that new technologies would become increasingly
important in order to adapt agriculture to existing and future
challenges, such as climate change, water scarcity and the need
to encourage sustainable improvements in productivity, not least
in the context of food security.
We consider "innovation" to refer to: new
technologies, such as biotechnology and new machinery; incremental
change, such as commercial decisions to plant a new crop or alter
a label; and to the more generic processes by which ideas are
conceived, developed and deployed throughout the agricultural
The Committee is seeking evidence from interested
parties on the issues outlined below. On the basis of that evidence,
the Committee will formulate conclusions and recommendations to
inform the House of Lords, and to contribute to the development
of policy on innovation in EU agriculture by the UK Government
and the EU institutions over the next few years.
The Committee invites you to submit written evidence.
The Committee would find it helpful if you would focus on a number
of specific issues, listed below. You may also wish to draw our
attention to additional issues not addressed by the questions
below. It is recognised that those submitting evidence will not
necessarily have an interest in all the questions and may therefore
wish to be selective.
Views are sought on the following:
Definition of "innovation" in the agricultural
(1) We have outlined above how we currently perceive
"innovation" in the agricultural context, but we would
welcome views on your interpretation of innovation in the agricultural
Innovation in EU agriculture as a strategic objective
(2) The EU believes that innovation and knowledge
are key to the EU's economic growth and that all sectors should
play their part. Do you agree that innovation in EU agriculture
should therefore be pro-actively encouraged? Alternatively, do
you see agriculture as a distinct sector faced with particular
challenges to which the sector will inevitably react in an innovative
(3) How is EU agriculture innovating now? Can
you explain under what conditions the agricultural sector is best
placed to innovate? Do you have examples of circumstances where
innovation would have been possible and would have been helpful,
but did not occur?
Obstacles to innovation
(4) What are the current obstacles to innovation?
Is there a shortfall in research capacity and in technology transfer?
To what extent do issues such as intellectual property rules,
resistance to new ideas, inertia, fear of failure and lack of
communication block innovation in the agricultural sector? What
are the obstacles to land managers incorporating forestry into
Demographic structure of the sector
(5) To what extent is the demographic structure
of the sector (an ageing farming population) an obstacle to innovation;
and, conversely, might greater innovation in agriculture serve
to bring new recruits to the sector? What incentives currently
exist to encourage young people to agriculture; what further efforts
might be made?
Future challenges driving innovation forward
(6) Looking forward, agriculture faces significant
challenges, although those challenges may bring opportunities
too. What challenges do you think will drive forward innovation
in EU agriculture in the future? What do you think should be the
responses to these challenges, and who would you expect to deliver
Knowledge and innovation systems
(7) Analysts have suggested in the past that
innovation is best served by co-ordinated formal and informal
systems of researchers, consumers, producers, retailers, advisers
and government. What sort of systems do you think are required
to support innovation in EU agriculture?
Research and Development
(8) Assuming that R&D has a role to play
as part of knowledge and innovation systems, how should the research
agenda be established in the field of agriculture? How should
such research be funded, particularly in the light of budget cuts
driven by austerity measures?
Education and skills
(9) What is the current state of education and
skills provision relating to agricultural research, the agricultural
sector and advisory services? How might such provision be enhanced?
(10)How should research be translated into technology
transfer and advice to practitioners? What are the respective
roles, for example, of professional advisers, professional organisations,
peer groups and the public sector?
(11)What are the roles of the Common Agricultural
Policy and EU research policy, including the Framework Programme
for Research and Development, in helping to resolve the issues
highlighted above? Where public intervention is desirable, what
is best done at a lower level of governance?
The deadline for written evidence is 24 September