The German Farmers' Association warns of a collapse in agricultural yields as a result of gas shortages. If fertilizers are only available to a limited extent or are no longer available, yields would immediately drop by 30 to 40 percent, said association president Joachim Rukwied before the two-day conference of federal and state agriculture ministers that began on Thursday. "To ensure stable harvests, the availability of fertilizers is essential."
Gas is necessary for the production of nitrogen fertilizer. "We need gas to be prioritized for the entire agricultural and food sector - and also for fertilizer manufacturers," Rukwied told the German Press Agency. The entire food industry is dependent on gas, such as sugar factories or dairies. "Without gas, no milk, no butter, no yoghurt."
The chairman of the conference of agriculture ministers, Saxony-Anhalt's agriculture minister Sven Schulze (CDU), recently called for an energy price cap for the food industry. The high prices restricted competitiveness and caused prices to rise sharply, even in the food retail sector, said Schulze. He expects increased pressure on the federal government.
On Thursday and Friday, the federal and state agricultural ministers will meet in Quedlinburg in Saxony-Anhalt. In addition to the overarching topic of the effects and consequences of the Ukraine war, the ministers want to discuss the restructuring of livestock farming.
Several sides are pushing for a conversion towards more animal welfare as quickly as possible. The farmers' association is also demanding clarity: "For years, all parties have agreed to bring even more animal welfare into the stables. Now this must finally be implemented and our farmers must not be left out in the rain," says Rukwied. Financing issues have not yet been finally clarified. The so-called Borchert Commission, an important expert commission, had criticized the standstill in the necessary funding. The FDP has therefore not agreed to any of the proposed and feasible options. The experts had already presented a concept for a gradual conversion of animal husbandry to significantly higher standards in 2020.
However, the plans of Federal Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir (Greens) for state animal husbandry labeling are met with resistance from the federal states. The North Rhine-Westphalian Minister of Agriculture Silke Gorißen (CDU) told the "Rheinische Post" that the plans had to be improved. The concept corresponds "neither to the broadly agreed resolutions of the Borchert Commission nor to the resolutions of past conferences of agriculture ministers," according to Gorißen.