Steve Baker: What assessment she has made of the potential contribution of data and technology to increasing the productivity and competitiveness of British farming.
The Minister of State for Farming (George Eustice MP): Data and technology have a central role to play in increasing the productivity and competitiveness of British farming. Last October, I launched the first of our agri-tech centres of excellence, the agrimetric centre at Rothamsted. They will develop new software models to improve our ability to understand and utilise the huge volume of data that exist. In addition, we are on track to open up 8,000 data sets to the public, which can help food and farming to achieve its potential.
Steve Baker: As a software engineer, I very much welcome my hon. Friend’s response. Does he agree that the implementation burden of vast changes, such as this year’s common agricultural policy, make it difficult to realise all these benefits? Does he agree that there is a simple solution, which is to vote to leave the EU?
The Minister of State for Farming (George Eustice MP): As my hon. Friend knows, the Government’s position is that we should remain in the European Union. He will be aware, however, that I have exercised the option granted by the Prime Minister to disagree with the Government on this particular issue. From a personal perspective, I simply say that the vast majority of problems farmers complain to me about are the consequence of dysfunctional EU legislation.