EIP-AGRI Operational Groups bring together farmers, researchers, advisers and others to address specific problems and opportunities in European agriculture. With over 400 Operational Groups now ongoing, the partners involved are learning from different project phases and are coming up with efficient ways to share their findings.
More than 3200 Operational Groups are planned for 2014-2020 across 27 European countries. The Spanish Operational Group “Optimisation of Idiazabal PDO milk collection” already finished in July 2016. The project explored how to reduce the cost of milk collection by involving farmers, research centres and industries. “It was quite difficult to get people and industries to work together”, says Miriam Molina from the PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) Regulatory Board. “But we learnt a lot along the way. When the dynamic is right, Operational Groups can stimulate a culture of collaboration where different partners collaborate for common benefit.”
“My advice to other farmers would be to believe in it and get involved”, says Felix Ajuria, one of the dairy farmers involved in the project. “To share our results, we produced a video for public television and spread information through a website”, Miriam continues. “We exchanged ideas with people from other Spanish regions and with farmers from the French Basque country.”
National and regional Managing Authorities publish calls for Operational Groups and select them. They can also set up innovation support systems and brokerage facilities to help partners find each other and develop project ideas, and they can create possibilities for transnational cooperation and networking.