Social policy in agriculture
Agricultural social security policy is a creative, target-oriented policy for the benefit of active farmers and their families which helps to establish the conditions for developing an efficient and competitive agricultural sector.
The agricultural social security system provides farmers and their families with financial protection in such cases as illness, need for long-term care or accidents at work. As a special profession-based system, it is uniquely focused on providing self-employed farmers with the best possible social protection and on offering welfare support to cushion the impact of structural change in agriculture.
Softening the financial impact of structural change is the responsibility of society as a whole. This is why the Federal Government provides financial aid under its agricultural social policy (around EUR 3.81 billion in 2016). The ongoing reforms are designed to ensure that the agricultural social security system is fit for the future as an independent social security system tailored to the needs of self-employed farmers.
The Social Insurance Fund for Agriculture, Forestry and Horticulture (SVLFG) implements the farmers' health insurance, long-term care insurance, accident insurance and old age security. It has been in place since 1972 for farming families.
Act on the Restructuring of the Agricultural Social Security System (LSV-NOG)
The Act on the Restructuring of the Agricultural Social Security System (LSV-NOG) created the SVLFG on 1 January 2013 as a federal insurance fund for the agricultural social security system as a whole. The merger between the previous agricultural social security bodies and their umbrella organisation did not only entail organisational changes.
As a result of the regional competencies of agricultural social security bodies, the burden placed on identically structured holdings varied significantly, giving rise to discernible distortions of competition. The establishment of the federal insurance fund made it possible to dismantle these distortions of competition by introducing uniform contribution rates across Germany, thus ensuring supra-regional fairness in the amounts paid. The farm structure and no longer the farm's location is thus the only deciding factor for the future level of contributions.
Since January 2014, contributions have been calculated on the basis of a so-called "corrected land value" for the first time. This value is composed of the land value and the relational value laid down in the Agricultural Earned Income Ordinance (Arbeitseinkommensverordnung Landwirtschaft (AELV).
A transitional period from 2014 to 2017 has been stipulated for the shift to the new benchmark. During this period, contributions will gradually be adapted to the new benchmark. It is only from 2018 onwards that contributions will exclusively be paid according to the new scale.
Around 1,020.500 people are employed in the agricultural sector (source: Federal Statistical Office 2013). Nearly half of them are family members working on farms (including the farm operator). Around 61 % of the 515,000 non-family farm workers are seasonal workers. The Minimum Wage Act (MiLoG) introduced a general statutory minimum wage of EUR 8.50 gross per hour.
The introduction of the statutory minimum wage protects workers in Germany against unreasonably low wages, whilst, at the same time, contributing to fair and effective competition.
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