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Promoting a sustainable livestock sector in Europe

European Innovation Partnership Agricultural Productivity & Sustainability

European Innovation Partnership on Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability

Innovation in agriculture is crucial for the competitiveness and sustainability of Europe’s agricultural sector. To ensure that the excellent research conducted by European knowledge providers is also turned into innovation in practice, the European Commission established the European Innovation Partnership on Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability (EIP- AGRI). 

The EIP-AGRI works to foster competitive and sustainable farming and forestry that 'achieves more and better from less'.  It contributes to ensure a steady supply of food, feed and biomaterials, developing its work in harmony with the essential natural resources on which farming depends. Two headline targets have been identified for the EIP-AGRI:
  • The EIP aims to reverse the recent trend of diminishing productivity gains by 2020, as an indicator for promoting productivity and efficiency of the agricultural sector.
  • As an indicator for the sustainability of agriculture, the EIP aims to secure soil functionality in Europe at a satisfactory level by 2020.
  • The Animal Task Force is actively involved in promoting research and innovation for a competitive and sustainable animal production sector in the EIP-AGRI.
  • Areas of Innovative Actions and Focus
  • The EIP-AGRI has outlined five main areas of innovative activities:
  • ‘Primary production: technical solutions to increasing productivity and economic viability.
  • Resource management: eco-system services, soil functionality, water management, and genetic resources (“public goods”).
  • Bioeconomy: innovative technology for the bio-based economy bio-refinery; new products; reduction of post harvest loss.
  • Supply chain: integrated supply chain solutions; new services; logistics, and management systems.
  • Quality and consumers: food quality, food safety, and healthy lifestyles.
The official Communication on the establishment of the EIP-Agri can be found here.

The European Innovation Partnership on Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability knows three main elements:

Operational Groups 
Operational Groups bring together farmers, researchers, advisors, businesses, NGOs and other actors to implement innovative projects pursuing the objectives of the EIP-AGRI. Operational Groups can be supported by various funding sources. The Rural Development Policy and the Horizon 2020 programme provide opportunities for setting up Operational Groups and incentivize actors who engage in actions on developing, testing and applying innovative approaches.

Operational Groups are built around concrete innovation projects, on the initiative of interested actors. The composition of an Operational Group may vary from project to project in function of the project pursued. Operational Groups have to commit themselves to disseminate the results of their work via the EIP network.

The aims of the EIP-AGRI and the functions of Operational Groups are described in Art 61 – 63 of the proposal for a Rural Development Regulation for the programming period 2014-2020

In this figure, the operational groups within the EIP are visualized.

Thematic Networks 
Multiple Operational Groups together working on a common theme can form a Thematic Network. A Thematic Network forms cross-border networks, bringing together relevant actors. Themes can be linked to products or sectors, e.g. poultry, aquaculture, dairy cattle, pigs, etc. or a broad range of cross-cutting subjects, e.g. precision farming, animal health and welfare, certain farming practices, energy, eco-system services, climate smart animal production, or short supply chains.
As themes bring together possible actors, Thematic Networks help connecting and building of EU Operational Groups & multi-actor projects.

Focus Groups 
Focus Groups are temporary groups of selected experts focusing on a specific subject, which share knowledge and experience. Each group explores practical innovative solutions to problems or opportunities in the field, and draws on experience derived from related useful projects.
Focus groups identify the implications for further research activities in order to help solving practical problems in the sector. These practical issues may be related to production, processing, consumption, transport or other bottlenecks.
Forming Focus Groups is a bottom-up process. Each actor can submit a proposal for a Focus Group. The EIP-AGRI Service Point will publish a call for experts accordingly. 

The EIP-AGRI does not have own funding available for projects. The EIP will be implemented through co-funding actions under the CAP pillar II on Rural Development Policy  en Horizon 2020 is feeding into EIP with applied research projects, cross-border and cluster initiatives or innovation centres.  
The budget for societal challenge II on ‘food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine, maritime and inland war research, and the bioeconomy’ is about 4 billion (2014-2020). All Thematic Networks within Horizon 2020 may link to various project groups feeding into the EIP-AGRI and should involve multipliers such as advisors and innovation support services.

The EIP-AGRI Service Point 
Innovation starts by bringing people together to get inspired. The European Commission therefore established the EIP-AGRI Service Point in April 2013. The Service Point will carry out the activities and management of the EIP on Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability, located in Brussels [click here for contact]. The full implementation plan can be found here.
The EIP-AGRI Service Point aims to facilitate communication between practice and sciences and exchanges among innovation actors by organising face-to-face meetings within the focus groups, workshops and seminars; it provides web-based information and exchange, social media and other means of communication targeted towards all key players in agricultural innovation to build a sustainable agricultural future together. They will collect and share information on innovation-related policy measures, relevant research activities, funding opportunities, and lessons learned from practice-oriented projects. 

Key acting entities within the EIP
The EIP-AGRI Service Point provides professional input, research, advice and support for the agricultural future. The EIP Network involves farmers, advisors, agri-business, civil society, researchers and administrations to trigger this process. 
A broad range of expertise is covered, including:
  • Different types of farming,
  • Research,
  • Networking and communication,
  • Farmers advisory systems,
  • Land consolidation and banking,
  • Land and nature development,
  • Environmental and agricultural policy,
  • Management and implementation of rural development measures.