VirtualVet is an agtech start-up operating from a family farm. Our aim is to create high quality rural jobs offering a compliance support service to farmers and data collection service to the wider agri-food and animal health industries. To make our vision a reality, a few things are required: Internet connectivity & government agencies to fully embrace the potential of digital technology and the concept of data sharing. There is a wealth of innovation and creativity in rural areas; and there are a lot of important food safety and environmental protection services which need to be developed for farmers.
Prof Alan Matthews, in a recent blog on CAP reform presented some practical and sensible measures to promote rural jobs, of which the following, in particular, caught the eye:
“Preventing unfair practices where they occur and ensuring an equitable distribution of value added and risk along the food supply chain is yet another example.”
In our case, VirtualVet reduces the risks of failed compliance for medicines recording errors during farm audits and inspections. We reduce the risks of food contamination from on-farm medicines along the agri-food value chain. This service is valuable to the wider agri-food and animal health industries. We offer our services free to farmers, taking away a stress and replacing it with a supportive service. We sell access to the required information to the appropriate agencies and organisations on behalf of the farmer. So far, the four members of staff have three MBAs and one BA. We interviewed a fifth member of staff this week, willing to start work next month after final exams in her Masters of International Business. All are happy to work on a farm – albeit from the comfort of an office in the farmhouse!
We are by no means an exception nor an anomaly. We are just one of hundreds and thousands of potential employers in rural areas across Europe dedicated to serving and protecting farming, food and the environment. But for CAP to really contribute to the growth of high skilled rural jobs, and sustainable agriculture, DG AGRI must work with the Digital Agenda, with the Circular Economy priorities and, in our case, with DG SANTE on the implementation of the new Animal Health Law. The digital economy offers the data flow regulations required for companies like ours. DG SANTE needs the competent authorities in member states to embrace near real-time surveillance.
The future is bright for rural economies if the bright lights are allowed to shine!
I strongly advise those interested to invest twenty minutes and contribute to the CAP Reform consultation here.