Commission proposes to collect environmental and social data in European farms

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23 June 2022, EU: Following up on its intention set out in the Farm to Fork (F2F) strategy, the European Commission proposed today to convert the Farm Accountancy Data Network (FADN) into a Farm Sustainability Data Network (FSDN). This will allow to better address sustainability challenges thanks to increased data knowledge on EU agriculture.

The FADN is a unique source of microeconomic and accountancy data coming every year from more than 80 000 EU farms. It monitors farms’ income and business activities to understand the impact of the measures taken under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). It has allowed assessing farms’ economic and financial situations since 1965. This data is instrumental for economic analyses on EU agriculture, as well as for supporting sound evidence-based policy-making. Reflecting the CAP’s evolution towards more environmental and social policies, the future FSDN will add sustainability data on environmental and social matters to its well-established economic scope. In addition to collecting new data, the system will be modernised to increase data sharing. This will make it possible to provide additional information for advisory services and feedback to farmers with the aim to improve the agricultural holdings’ sustainability.

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The data collection methodology will be in line with the existing one for the current FADN. The Commission will set out the harmonised methodology (common definitions, reporting formats and quality requirements) and the common questionnaire. This common framework is important to ensure that data can be compared at EU level. Member States will then collect data at farm-level, with the farmer’s consent. Particular attention to data protection issues will be paid. Member States will have the possibility to set incentives for farmers’ participation in the data network, such as financial contribution, feedback on the farm performance with a focus on improving sustainable farming practices, or targeted advice based on FSDN information.

To convert the overall structure of the FADN, the Commission adopted today a proposal for a Regulation amending Council Regulation 1217/2009. The list of new data and variables to be included in the future FSDN will be set out in secondary legislation (implementing and delegated acts). Based on an ongoing study, the Commission will propose a mapping of possible topics to be included, which will be discussed in Autumn 2022 during a workshop with Member States and stakeholders. The Commission will take into account the need to limit the data collection administrative burden on farmers and national authorities. The subsequent discussions with Member States in committee meetings will build on the Commission’s proposal.

To sum up, today’s proposal will allow to:

  • improve the current role of FADN as source of harmonised economic and accountancy farm-level data in the EU, including income-related indicators of the future CAP;
  • reinforce the relevance of FADN/FSDN for policy-making, research, evaluation and policy analysis;
  • add variables related to environmental and social dimensions to allow for a comprehensive assessment of the situation of farms and their performance;
  • simplify existing data collection and introduce innovative and modern systems and practices, also through better interoperability with other data sources;
  • improve the sustainability performance of farmers’ agricultural operations including through improvement of farm advisory information.
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