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Scottish Farmer to Head Up UK Representation on European Agri-Tech Project

Scottish farmer Jamie Smart is to head up UK representation on a European Agri-tech pilot project valued at €30 million.

Mr Smart, from Balderston Farm, Linlithgow, West Lothian is the current chairman of NFU Scotland’s Legal and Technical Committee. He will represent UK farming interests on a large scale trial of agricultural technology, feeding in the views of what grassroots farmers need on the ground from the wide suite of technologies currently available.

The ultimate aim is to identify which technologies actually add significant value to European agriculture and, most importantly, what is practical and affordable for farmers.

To design the project, the European Commission has selected a group of companies and industry organisations from the telecoms, communications and agricultural machinery sectors to formulate the details. European farmers’ association COPA is also now a part of this group in order to ensure that practical farming considerations are taken into account and that the project design requires those delivering it to use useable, relevant technologies. The application window for proposals will open early next year and close on April 12.

Commenting on his role, Mr Smart said: “Farming is becoming increasingly technological and it is already commonplace for farmers to be using computers and electronics in their daily routines.

“It is hugely important that practical farmers have a say in the development of these advances rather than big companies trying to sell us products in the future which benefit them but do little for the industry.

“If properly thought out, developed and sold at reasonable cost, then these technologies could have a role in all areas of agriculture delivering efficiencies and cost savings, increasing yields and profits while at the same time reducing inputs and environmental impact.

“I hope that my involvement with this project will help target this funding to where it is most needed and will have the biggest impact for Scottish, British and the wider European farming benefit.

“In keeping with the technological theme, most of the discussions will take place via teleconferencing and will cover areas as diverse as greater automation and guidance of field machinery to remote inspection of livestock.

“One of the first things I have raised is that all of this technology could be rendered worthless if the users do not have fast, reliable, affordable broadband or other data transfer systems available and an acceptable mobile phone service.  There are a significant number of Scottish farmers and crofters around the country who have limited access to this basic modern technology which many of us already take for granted.”  

Notes to Editors

  • A photograph of Jamie Smart is available on request from media@nfus.org.uk

Ends

Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Date Published:

News Article No.: 237/15


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