Facts start with data – but where to find them?

Facts start with data – but where to find them?

In farm policy, numbers float the pre-reform debate as salmon floats upstream lakes in late autumn. What to make of these numbers though? Often, they are reproductions of old figures, sometimes taken out of context, and occasionally used to argue for the opposite causality than the one underlying them.

Yet numbers are essential in understanding the big picture, interpreting the bigger trends and analysing the factors that affect them. It is normal that such interpretations would differ; what should not be normal, however, is that data on the same variable are often scattered, incomplete and methodologically not sound.

Common Monitoring and Evaluation Framework (CMEF) data

To improve the existing situation on data relevant for the Common Agricultural Policy, the Common Monitoring and Evaluation Framework of the CAP has had a major facelift last year. Very recently, this data source was subject to further improvement with the publication of the updated 2017 data in the CAP Indicators dashboards here.

These dashboards reflect the main facts on the CAP grouped by broader themes (e.g., income support, market orientation, jobs and growth in rural areas, and action on the environment and climate).


Each dashboard presents visually and in an interactive way elements of context (such as the development of GDP in rural areas), policy output (e.g. the number of CAP income support beneficiaries), result indicators (such the price ratio between EU and world agricultural prices) and impact indicators (e.g. GHG emissions coming from agriculture).

he user can select the EU or different Member States, the year and sometimes the sector.

 Information on the data included in the dashboard (name and code of the indicator, link to the information sheet and calculation), as well as explanations are provided in the Info button (on the top right of the dashboard). The user can download all the data presented in the dashboard by clicking on the button Bulk download (on the top right of the dashboard).

There are many more CAP indicators than those presented in the dashboards. The user can visualise, filter, search and download them using the link to the data explorer at the bottom of the CAP Indicators page.

Farm Accountancy Data Network (FADN) data

Another set of CAP-related information was also recently updated, that of information from the Farm Accountancy Data Network (FADN). This now presents information not only by Member state but also by sector in the Farm Economy Focus section of the Agri-food data portal here.


The data about productivity, income, subsidies, production characteristics and structure are available in a user-friendly way, with the visual example below related to EU crop production.

I hope the reader can find not just useful information for background but also ammunition for a fruitful policy debate.

Kudos to my colleagues for their great job. Enjoy!

Published by Tassos Haniotis

Director, Strategy and Policy Analysis, DG Agriculture, European Commission
Source: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/facts-start-data-where-find-them-tassos-haniotis/