In recent decades, German agriculture has had its greatest heyday and made much money, so that not only was it able to invest a great deal but also land prices have increased fivefold in the last 10 years and leases have tripled. There are even international agricultural funds, which want to escape this money accumulation and inflation by investing in land and forest, because they not only feel safe thus owning tangible assets but they also believe in further price increases.
But, due to international, European and national policies, agriculture is actually faced with dramatic changes that are first becoming apparent in the dairy and the pig market.
Till a short time ago, dairy farmers earned good money because of the milk quota in a “wellordered market”. But because the costs were the lower the more cows you had in your stable, in a system of guaranteed sales the number of cattle farms and the number of cows held in them increased constantly and so, of course, did the total production. With the sudden end of the milk quota overproduction flooded the market without restraint and there ruined the extortionate prices on the consumer market, so that today, dairy farmers make daily losses with selling prices of about 20 cents and costs of 35 to 40 cents.
Per cow the place in the stable costs about EUR 10,000, so a large cowshed with 400 places and cows costs about 4 million euros. If the daily production causes further debts to accrue on top of these costs, farmers with the largest debts are the first to default. The situation is alarming for the entire dairy industry. Farms are already dying out. If nothing is done about this, 25 to 30% of the milk market will be destroyed in the medium term.
In connection with the pig market we know the “pork cycle”, the disproportionate proliferation of pigs when prices are good, so that overproduction causes prices to collapse again and hence not only farms which operate too near the marginal costs are eliminated, but the others also reduce their livestock. The pig market is currently also in crisis and in revision because producer prices are below cost.
But we are unlikely to recover the agricultural capacity now destroyed in this crisis, even in the long run. The United States alone are using 50 million hectares of agricultural land to produce biofuel, and they could convert this to grain production at any time when there are export opportunities. And the granaries of Ukraine are also already largely in the hands of US corporations (Dreyfus and others), so that the European market is to be flooded with US produced and genetically contaminated grain from this side also.
The TTIP-enforced surrender of the self-sufficiency principle and the sacrifice of our indigenous agriculture in favour of US companies would not only be a temporary policy failure, but bring with it permanent damage which will cause existential problems for our provision with supplies as early as in the next world depression. •
(Translation Current Concerns)
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