One of the most important economic sectors of the border region of Germany/Netherlands, farming and the food industry, is constantly under pressure to adapt in order to maintain its competitiveness on national and international markets. High wage levels in Germany and the Netherlands demand that technical and organisational progress is speeded up in order to maintain the employment and value-added potentials in the animal processing industry in the future, or to exploit it even further. Against this background, experts from North Rhine-Westphalia, Lower Saxony and the Netherlands systematically analysed the strengths and weaknesses of prevention, control and monitoring measures right through to crisis management in the agro-business sector.
Representatives of the respective agricultural ministries, government authorities of the Länder, rural districts and towns of the border region, business enterprises and research institutes defined the core issues which are highly relevant for the economy and society at regional and supraregional level. On both sides of the border it has become clear that the systematic combating of zoonoses and epizootics and the improving of food safety and quality are a key factor for one of the most densely populated regions of Europe.
Through targeted promotion of the transfer of technology and knowledge between research institutes and industry as well as official government organisations the project will set new standards in the areas of organisational processes (risk-oriented food monitoring, early warning systems, fighting economic crime, crisis management, information and communication models, etc.) as well as technical innovations (web-based data warehouse solutions, effect-oriented analytics, diagnostics, e-learning, etc.) in value-added chains for food derived from animal husbandry.
Through systematically pooling and promoting existing potentials a cross border "Agro-Business" cluster is being established which – with its economic and innovative power – will act as an exemplary model far beyond the promotion region.
A total of 9.35 million euros is available for the 38 partners from science, industry and public authorities until mid-2013 for the development of measures and concepts. The European Union's INTERREG programme "Germany-Netherlands" is taking over about half of the total costs (4.7 million euros), while national funds of 1.8 million euros is being provided by German and Dutch ministries and public authorities as well as the seven Dutch border provinces. The participating project partners from science and industry are providing their own contribution of 2.8 million euros.
The name "SafeGuard" stands for Sound Animals and healthy Food within the Euregio Guaranteed by a United Approach [between Dutch and German / public and private entities] that facilitates averting danger in Rural [cross border] Districts.