European CAP reform should include measures to help farmers invest in digital technology and equipment, according to the President of the European Agriculture Machinery Association (CEMA) Richard Markwell.

In his role as President of CEMA, Markwell is encouraging CAP reform to focus on innovation and incentives to help farmers invest in digital technology and equipment.

Markwell 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 recent annual Congress of European Farmers in Athens.

The CEMA President told Congress delegates that the next round of CAP reform and similar EU finance schemes should favour investment in precision farming and connected tools or services.

“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,” Markwell said.

The EU legislation governing farm equipment needs to be differentiated from legislation on automobiles as it frequently generates huge costs for the agriculture industry for little added value, according to the CEMA President.

Our role at CEMA is to help farmers produce more food, using less labour, with less land, in a sustainable manner at affordable prices.

“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," he said.

The EU must work closer with organisations like CEMA to ensure that farmers have the right equipment, meeting the standards of environmental protection and security and to ensure a profitable agri-sector which farmers are able to invest in, Markwell said.

CEMA is the voice of the European agricultural machinery industry which includes 4,500 manufacturers of agricultural equipment and generates a total turnover of €26 billion.

This industry also provides employment for 135,000 people directly and another 125,000 persons indirectly in the distribution and service network.