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Data economy in the field of agriculture – effects of data sharing and big data

 

Used effectively, agricultural data has the potential to increase the performance of the sector and of businesses along the supply chain in a sustainable way as well to as to serve public good purposes. For instance, agricultural data forms a key input to precision farming applications and can form input to the analysis on environmental conditions as well as to other fields, e.g. bioinformatics. Thus, agricultural data has a value and presents an interesting element for the data economy.

A crucial parameter to the effectiveness and efficiency of the application of data technologies is the quantity and quality of agricultural data serving as basis for such analyses. However, agricultural data, which stems from multiple sources and includes business, personal and public data, is not straightforward accessible, not even for fees/ financial resources.

Next to technical issues related to e.g. data interoperability, questions on the ownership of agricultural data and the readiness to share the data present a burden to the use of agricultural data. Farmers, for instance, need to trust that their farm data is handled and share carefully, and have to see their and societal benefits to share the data, and have a stake in the economic benefits of agricultural data.

Currently, some companies in the agri-food value chain are collecting agricultural data, e.g. through farmers as customers. Not always is the use of that data, e.g. for product development or farm-tailored advertisement, fully transparent. Moreover, some companies with high numbers of customers, easily gain enormous market power and generate income through the use of the collected data and the application of data technologies.

Developments in the agricultural sector as well as in EU policies[[Key policy ambitions related to the data economy and the use of data for the society/ the public good are reflected in a “European Strategy for Data” published by the European Commission in February 2020 (see https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/policies/building-european-data-economy).]], which are/ will be addressing those circumstance to increase the readiness to data sharing to increase the benefit for the economy and society and to overcome power imbalances and a lack of transparency in the use of data, occur rapidly. These changing framing conditions offer opportunities as well as challenges to the agricultural sector as well as to the data economy.

Proposals should cover all of the following aspects:

  • Quantitative and qualitative analyses of the effects of various data sharing and marketing and use options (considering among others private and public data, private and public actions, and big data opportunities) for the actors along the agri-food supply chain and the development of scenarios for the data economy.
  • Implications of the ongoing policy-making process at EU level including the development of relevant legislation in the analyses.
  • Effects of multi-level governance systems in the EU under consideration of the situation and conditions in various Member States as well as effects of international (trade) relations.
  • Consideration of multiple data-sharing business- and governance approaches and technical solution in data sharing in the agricultural sector.
  • Consideration of climate adaptation and reducing administrative burden in the assessment of the potential of agricultural data sharing for the sector and the society.