News & Analysis


CAP Reform – “Rural Jobs” should mean more than farm jobs

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 […]


Farm Data Ownership Debate – Buried in Bratislava

Earlier this month I was one of the lucky ones chosen to attend the excellent EIP Agri Data Sharing Workshop in Bratislava. Within an hour the  “data ownership” question was skillfully re-framed to “data  controller & data processor” roles, and the relationship between these roles. For VirtualVet this validated our entire approach and methodology. We have long believed that “ownership” and the notions of defense or protection it excites, prevent farmers and the wider value chain from benefiting fully from vitally important information and knowledge. Instead, we believe and are implementing a relationship model, where farmers control their data, explicitly […]


News Roundup: Avian influenza, FAO launches Asian initiative

Avian influenza in China Human cases of avian influenza have increased since December 2016 – specifically the H7N9 virus, influenza A – having first been detected in China four years ago. Despite heavy investment in the surveillance of bird markets and poultry farms, most patients reported previous contact with live birds. “Targeted surveillance to detect the disease and clean infected farms and live bird markets, intervening at critical points along the poultry value chain – from farm to table – is required. There should be incentives for everybody involved in poultry production and marketing to enforce disease control.” – Vincent […]


AHEAD 2017, Digital Transformation of Animal Health Data

AHEAD 2017 workshop is sponsored by OECD’s Co-operative Research Programme on Biological Resource Management for Sustainable Agricultural Systems On March 1st and 2nd VirtualVet and Epi-Connect hosted AHEAD 2017, a workshop to discuss the digital transformation opportunities in animal health, animal disease and animal drug usage. We intend to create a road-map with and for interested actors along the animal health value chain. This complex value chain starts, first and foremost with farmers. VirtualVet and Epi-Connect are adamant that farmers and the wider agri-food value chain, have yet to fully realise the true value or potential of on-farm, near real-time […]


News Roundup February 21st : NFU demand clarity on Brexit

EU Commission awards €45,000 to organisations fighting AMR Three non-governmental organisations have been awarded in Belgium, at a ceremony hosted by the University of Leuven, for outstanding contributions that have significantly reduced the threat of antimicrobial resistance to human health. Awarded first prize by Commissioner of Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis, the BEUC (The European Consumer organisation) operated an antibiotic resistance campaign “From Farm to You”, while the second-placed Soil Association received €15,000 for their campaign to end the routine prophylactic mass-medication of farm animals. Speaking at the event, Commissioner Andriukaitis said that “averting this looming threat before it […]


News Roundup: Cochrane Review, IFRM

Cochrane Review: Interventions to improve antibiotic prescribing practices for hospital inpatients. On February 9th 2017, the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews produced a review that highlights some good measures to be taken when prescribing antibiotics, with a mind to combating antimicrobial resistance. Using information collected from 221 studies on the subject, the studies tested interventions that fell broadly into two categories: restrictive techniques, which apply rules to make physicians prescribe properly, and enablement techniques, which provide advice or feedback to help physicians prescribe properly. The study found high-certainty evidence of interventions leading to improved prescription practices. Both restriction and enabling […]


Weekly News Round Up – Trade and other issues.

President Trump hints at free trade deal with UK US President Donald Trump has hinted that a generous free trade deal with the United Kingdom may be in the pipeline. With Britain facing into the troubling business of leaving the European Union without a free trade deal in place and the United States looking to export great amounts of agricultural produce each year, a deal of such nature could prove to be of great benefit to both.  Having been at the forefront of combating the use of growth-promoting hormones in beef over recent years, it is expected that the UK […]


Consider the farmer in your design of farm technology

Many innovations and technologies have been developed, released and used productively by farmers in Europe and further afield with growing regularity in recent years, but more real and detailed consideration of the farmer as user in the design stages would improve adoption. The value of genomics is widely recognized and burgeoning drone use promises several potential benefits to farmers. Online there are a host of vibrant agricultural communities discussing farm practice and trends through social media. On our farm physical, time consuming labour has been reduced in calf-rearing through our automatic feeders. Elsewhere, it is estimated that 20% of all […]


Welcome to Michael Quealy

Earlier this year the home farm received a welcome injection of energy – Michael Quealy Jnr, the next in a long line of Michael Quealys on this farm. Michael has kindly agreed to contribute his thoughts and observations on the issues and challenges facing his generation of farmers. He brings a fresh perspective; not only is he writing from the front-line, but he is a digital native and has a long list of digital improvements, experienced in other industries, which he will demand from the agri-food industry. Agri-food industry take note – this is your future. Read his first contribution […]


Young farmer explains threat of antimicrobial resistance

For some time now I have been working on our family-run dairy and beef enterprise. During this time, I have been surrounded by talk of the important problems facing the farming community; high input costs, fluctuating prices for meat and dairy produce, difficulty in meeting emissions requirements and the availability and cost of acquiring new land for expansion. These problems each require and deserve serious discussion and resolution, but none of these issues is as daunting to me as the startling and growing problem of antimicrobial resistance in both humans and animals. There is a significant and sometimes underappreciated link […]