WPS

The work plan is structured around 7 work packages where 6 of the work packages address one of the key questions. The 7th WP is the management of the project.

Work package 1 Identifying policy needs for farm-level indicators answers the question 'what is desirable?'.

WP1 provides the foundation of the research by identifying the relevant agricultural policies (and related ones in the environmental and food safety domain), their best methods in policy evaluation and their data needs at micro (farm) level. Special attention will be paid to the CAP towards 2020 policy decisions - as this has not yet been done. From the best methods in policy evaluation, WP 1 will derive the data needs at micro (farm) level. To measure productivity, sustainability and innovation, the academic literature will be reviewed to make an inventory of most relevant indicators. Several attempts to monitor sustainability in agriculture and the food industry with a Triple P approach of Profit, People and Planet (Elkington, 1994) have been established. The Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI) of leading food companies has proposed definitions for several Planet-related indicators (Elferink, 2012). The Dutch FADN gathers a large list of Triple P indicators, that are grouped into categories (Boone (2010)). Current practices in farm level data gathering, in farm management software, administrative data, statistics and FADNs are also analysed.


Work package 2 Definition of new farm-level indicators will address the question

'What is feasible in the value chain?'.

The long list of initiatives on farm-level indicators as described in section 1.2, with at the same time a limited availability of data underscores the problems to establish a data-infrastructure on farm-level indicators. To gather such indicators, the cooperation of farmers is essential. This work package identifies and selects farmers for the pilot network. FLINT will discuss data-gathering at farm level in depth with farmers and the food industry. The concepts of productivity and sustainability that farmers and their suppliers, food processors and retailers, use in their management and marketing, will be taken into account. This will improve collaboration as farm management data can be used, feed-back data will be more relevant, and policy analysis gets a better view on farm level decision making. A number of focus groups with farmers and the food industry will be organised to learn their management needs and implicit concepts of productivity and sustainability. Based on the theoretical investigation and the results from this interaction with the stakeholders in the industry the list of new farm-level indicators, grouped in themes related to policy issues will be developed. Farm-level indicators that have been identified and fit into the possibilities of the value chain, are defined, standardised and decomposed into data-variables that can be collected by or from the farmer or administrative sources related to the farm.


Work package 3 Design of the data collection system addresses the questions 'What is a feasible pilot network (IT)?'.

FLINT will investigate the feasibility by using up-to-date ICT methods and applications in different administrative environments (including different types of national FADNs). There is a rapid uptake of new ICT-tools in agriculture and the food industry, and Future-Internet investments (FP7 FI-PPP projects SmartAgriFood and cSpace) propose new concepts for data exchange (Poppe et al, 2013). This is not only relevant for the exchange of the data itself, but also to document authorisations of farmers that make the transfer of the privacy-sensitive data possible (as FLINT not automatically benefits from the FADN safeguard clauses). A new digital standard format developed in the Netherlands can be used for this purpose. Standards in SDMX or SBR/XBRL for sustainability reporting will be developed, testing and extending recent innovations. An innovative, cloud-based, file-sharing service for data-transfer from national systems to a central database will be used. A central database will be built where farm records can be matched with administrative and GIS data. With the use of data-flow diagrams the effect of the changes in data collection on the current data-infrastructure is investigated. Software and operational instructions are changed or 'working-around' methods (with e.g. spread sheets for small groups of farms) for the collection of data are developed. In addition reports have to be developed with which the indicators are reported back to farmers and added to their "dashboard" for monitoring their farm. This is not only a reward for the collaboration, but also an important feed-back mechanism for quality control. It makes it possible to check if the data provides a true and fair view of the reality.


Work package 4 Testing data collection analyses 'What is a feasible pilot network (Data)?'.

WP 4 aims to gather data on about 1000 farms in 9 countries. They represent different regions in Europe (including 2 important countries in the New MS and 2 in the Mediterranean region) and have very different data collection administrative environments in the current FADN. Administrative environments differ between MS, and -given path dependency- the same is to be expected for a renewed data-infrastructure, inside or outside the FADN. In 11 out of the 27 MS the FADN is managed by a research institute that often, but not necessarily, conducts the data collection with its own staff. In 13 Member States the FADN is under the direct management of the Ministry of Agriculture, and data collection is often out-sourced, in some cases to an extension service, in other cases to a fiscal accounting office. This implies that a test of a data-infrastructure should be representative for at least three types of administrative environment:

  1. 1. Research institutes that collect data with their own staff
  2. 2. Research institutes or Ministries of agriculture that buy data from an advisory service interested in such data for management consultancy
  3. 3. Ministries of agriculture that buy data from the fiscal accounting offices (without much interest in farm management consultancy other than financial or fiscal).

The Pilot network that FLINT proposes is representative for these 3 environments and for different farm types, farm sizes and for certain policy objectives (e.g. Natura2000, Direct payments, High Nature Value areas etc.). Farm types are sampled in at least two countries with different administrative environments, to make comparisons possible.

Initially data collectors will be trained and quality controls will be developed and implemented. It is assumed that data collection will take place in the winter / spring of 2014/15 on the calendar year 2014 (or May 2014/15 where appropriate) with the aim to have the data in September 2015 available for policy analysis. The data collection process will be evaluated through a de-briefing shortly after completion.


Work package 5 Analysis with farm-level indicators answer the question 'What is useful?'.

The data in the central database will be further validated and the farm level indicators will be created. The information will also be disseminated to participating farmers in benchmark reports. The main activity is to carry out a number of policy analyses evaluating CAP policies where targeting is relevant and where a jointness or trade-off between objectives exist. To evaluate the different options for data-infrastructures, given the difference in administrative environments, these policy analyses will be conducted with the old (that is the current, 2013 state-of the art) indicators, with data on the new farm-level indicators, collected and integrated at farm level, and with a set of data that combines FADN data with the new farm-level indicators as if they were collected in different networks (based on data fusion and imputation). The policy analyses will use methodologies for determination of net impacts and establishment of counterfactuals for measuring the impact of the CAP at farm level across a large array of fields, including farm economics, environmental sustainability, knowledge transfer and innovation and other social needs. These analyses are the basis for a methodological review on the usefulness of the different farm level indicators and options for data-infrastructures.

Work package 6 Outcome management answers the question 'What is acceptable?'. WP6 addresses one of the key concerns of the project: to share the results of the project with the stakeholders, and especially the EC and the FADN Committee, in such a manner that the outputs of the project (papers, standards, data, guidelines and software) will reach potential users and will have an impact on CAP evaluations and targeting of policies. FLINT will communicate with the relevant stakeholders at all stages of the project via a community of practice. Countries that are not part of the project-consortium but have data comparable to the new farm-level indicators (or are willing to collect them at their own cost) are invited to take part in FLINT by sharing their data.

Different scenarios for the future data-infrastructure will be developed. These include the size of the sample, the ICT-aspects, and the effects of different infrastructures on the FADN. Stakeholder interviews with all member states will help to prepare the ground for recommendations for follow-up activities to be implemented by the EC. The outcome of the project should therefore not only be defined in terms of dissemination but as 'research for action'.

Work package 7 Project coordination. WP7 includes all of the management and organisational tasks that are necessary to create and maintain constructive working conditions for all project partners throughout the project's course and to represent the project among and negotiate with third parties, especially the European Commission.