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From "Reports on Agriculture", Exercise number 3, December 2006

Further development of the policy for rural areas

Recommendations of the Scientific Advisory Board on Agricultural Policy at the BMELV 1)

The Advisory Board justifies a required sweeping reform of the policy for rural areas by stating that the instruments in place do not suffice to efficiently tackle the central problems in rural areas. In its statement the Advisory Board set out a number of fundamental regulatory recommendations on the long-term orientation of the further development of the policy for rural areas. This encompasses, inter alia, that

  • the policy should be shaped in a cross-sectoral manner - towards a greater focus on problems and action,
  • the subsidiarity principle must apply, in principle, and the tasks should be performed in a decentralised manner, preferably by the municipalities,
  • the Joint Task for the Improvement of Agricultural Structures and Coastal Protection is put up for consideration.

In addition, the Advisory Board consistently transferred its critical view of multi-level participation to the policy formulation for rural areas in view of the reform of Germany's federal system and the debate on the future decision-making and financing structures in the EU.

More competition and thus a support of rural development projects with a greater focus on results could be achieved by strengthening regional responsibility.

1) Members of the scientific advisory board: Prof. Prof. Dr. FOLKHARD ISERMEYER (Vorsitzender, Braunschweig), Prof. Dr. Dr. ANNETTE OTTE (stv. Vorsitzende, Gießen), Prof. Dr. OLAF CHRISTEN, Halle-Wittenberg, Prof. Dr. STEPHAN DABBERT (Stuttgart), Prof. Dr. KLAUS FROHBERG (Bonn), Prof. Dr. ULRIKE GRABSKI-KIERON (Münster), Prof. Dr. JÖRG HARTUNG (Hannover), Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c ALOIS HEIßENHUBER (Freising), Prof. Dr. JÜRGEN HEß (Witzenhausen); Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. DIETER KIRSCHKE (Berlin); Prof. Dr. PETER MICHAEL SCHMITZ, Gießen; Prof. Dr. ACHIM SPILLER, Göttingen; Prof. Dr. ALBERT SUNDRUM (Witzenhausen); Prof. Prof. Dr. CARSTEN THOROE (Hamburg)

Regional income effects of the Common Agricultural Policy in relation to land use conditions - the example of the German State of Hesse

By Johannes Harsche, Wiesbaden

The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) of the European Union is characterized by a set of several concepts and numerous policy instruments such as price support, direct payments and quotas. Thus, the net income effects of the policy mix had been intransparent for years. This study is based on a regionalized concept of producer support estimates (PSEs) to analyze the effects of CAP on agricultural income at the level of NUTS III regions. Namely, 26 regions located in the German State of Hesse are regarded. One important result of the study is that during the period 1986-2002 the CAP affected the regions quite differently. Recent reforms of the CAP have reduced significantly the agricultural income in the regions considered because income reduction due to price support has not been compensated by income growth due to direct payments. There are also remarkable stabilization effects of the CAP on the income of producers, especially as a result of price support. In addition to this, several factors for the level and the development of producer support have been elaborated such as natural conditions for farming and regional economic structure.

Cooperative relations in dairy operations - Cost efficient development perspective with respect to restricted individual growth possibilities

By Reiner Doluschitz, Stuttgart

Cooperative relations in dairy operations can constitute cost-efficient development strategies for dairy farms in view of politically-induced growth constraints and restricted growth opportunities for individual farms. However, such strategies should be prepared very carefully and monitored, as appropriate, at farm level. A definition of the term of cooperation is given and objectives, prerequisites and potential problems of cooperative relations are discussed in this paper. Selected forms of cooperation are comparatively analyzed with special emphasis on agricultural dairy systems. In addition, legal considerations are addressed, questions of subsidies and contracts are raised as well as questions concerning taxation and distribution of profits and losses. Finally, instructions are given for dissolution or winding-up that might become necessary.

Keywords: Dairy operations, Growth, Cooperative Relations

On the feasibility of a GMO (genetically modified organisms) -free feed production: results of a study conducted under practice-like conditions at three Austrian feed manufacturing plants

By Siegfried Pöchtrager, Oliver Meixner, Wien, Gabriele Moder, Enzersfeld, and Andreas Heissenberger, Wien

This article discusses the feasibility of GMO-free feed production: Is it possible to observe the critical EU standard for non-GMO products of 0.9 % when a feed producer processes both GMO- and non-GMO soybeans? This regulation requires feeds with a presence of 0.9 % or more of adventitious or technically unavoidable contamination to be labelled. Based on a detailed market study describing the global market for soy and soy shred (cultivation and crop yields, trading, prices, areas of use, and characteristics), we present the results of a study conducted at 3 Austrian feed mills investigating if this kind of production is technically feasible. For this purpose, a mill has to make every effort to prevent impurities through GMO soy that exceed the limit of 0.9 % in the final product. To purify the production line after the usage of GMO soy, special scavenging batches have to be applied. However, not even one of the investigated mills succeeded in continuously complying with the limit value. Furthermore, the time and frequency of the sampling itself and the stage within the production process had a significant impact on the results of the analysis. Therefore, it seems technically impossible to adhere to the required standard of 0.9 % when processing GMO and non-GMO soy beans via the same production line.

The wide row system - Innovation for organic winter wheat cultivation?

By Helge Neumann, Ralf Loges and Friedhelm Taube, Kiel

Due to the ban on synthetically produced chemical N-fertilizers in organic agriculture, the cultivation of crops with a high N-demand is difficult. Grain crude protein contents required for baking wheat of a high quality can frequently not be produced in organic winter wheat cultivation. Observations from practical organic farming in northern Germany in the early and mid- 1990s indicate that the cultivation of winter wheat with wider row spacings resulted in a higher grain crude protein content without a reduction in grain yield.

On the test farm for organic agriculture and extensive land use systems of Kiel University, several field experiments were conducted from 1999 to 2003 to optimise grain crude protein content and yields of organically grown winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.). In addition to several seed row spacings (12 cm up to 48 cm) and different varieties of winter wheat ("Batis", "Bussard", "Renan"), various seed rates (100, 200, 300 kernels per m2) and intensities of mechanical weed control (harrowing, harrowing + 1x hoeing and 3x hoeing, respectively) were tested.

The increase of seed row spacing led to reduced grain yields in all experiments. The yield losses ranged from 0.33 t ha-1 (9.2 %) to 0.99 t ha-1 (26.3 %). The wider row spacings resulted in significantly higher grain crude protein contents in only one of the five experiments. Row spacings of 36 cm and 48 cm caused a 0.6 and 0.8 per cent, respectively, higher grain crude protein content compared to the common row width of 12 cm in that experiment. The wide row system could not reliably be optimised by variation of other experimental factors (seed rate, variety, intensity of mechanical weed control). This system can, therefore, not be regarded as an alternative to traditional cultivation systems for organic baking wheat under the prevailing growth conditions on the experimental site in northern Germany.

Keywords: organic farming, baking wheat, grain crude protein content, wide row spacing, Triticum aestivum

Energy crop production on organic farms without livestock

By Christoph Walla and Walter Schneeberger, Wien

Mobile nitrogen sources are scarce on organic crop farms without livestock. One possible source can be biogass slurry from fermented energy crops produced on organic farms. This study analyses the economic effects of an investment into a cooperative farm biogas plant on the production programme of the organic farm and its net income. A linear planning model is used for the analysis. The production of green electricity by the biogas plant yields a higher net farm income. Alfalfa grass is a more efficient energy crop than silage maize on organic farms. Less land is used for legumes and more for cash crops. The annual labour requirement rises due to the operation of the new biogas plant.

Keywords: biogas, energy crops, organic farming

The reform of the agricultural pension program in the Federal Republic of Germany: An analysis ten years after the enactment of the Agricultural Social Reform Law of 1995

By Peter Mehl, Braunschweig

The dynamic cost development of the agricultural pension program founded in 1957 and the objective of improving social security for the spouses of farmers gave the impetus for a complete reform of the system at the beginning of the 1990s. The reform resulted in the Act on the reform of the Social Security System in Agriculture (ASRG 1995) (5). In this paper, the reform is analyzed and evaluated from a current perspective. First, the goals of the reform, as well as the interplay of the central parts of the program, are outlined. Then the reform is analyzed with regard to its social security functions and in terms of its financial and distributional policy impacts. The analysis shows that the reform of the agricultural social security program has achieved its main objectives. This holds particularly true for the targeted financial stabilization of the system. The goal of creating an independent social security program for the spouses of farmers was achieved. Here, however, it must be noted that social security for farm families has only improved to a limited extent due to the rapidly increasing number of exceptions from insurance obligations since the reform was enacted. Overall, due to the reform of the Social Security System in Agriculture of 1995, the farmers’ social security system appears to be well equipped for ongoing discussions about the future of pay-as-you-go financed pension systems because it has already realized many elements of a modern pension system.

Media coverage of food crises and purchase behaviour - on the influence of BSE reporting in the print media on the sales of chosen beef-containing food products

By Rainer Olbrich and Anja Voerste, Hagen

This study examined three beef-containing food products that have different signalling effects by way of example. In particular, the study considered the influence of BSE coverage in the print media on the sales of three examined food products from January 2000 to June 2001. We identified a relationship between the influence of media coverage and the sales of beef-containing food products depending on the individual signalling effect of a food product. The stronger the individual signalling effect of a food product, the more will the influence of media coverage cause a decline in the sales of the food product concerned.

Alternative growing systems for head lettuce

By N. Gruda, Berlin und W. H. Schnitzler, Freising

Vegetable seedlings and transplants are produced in pots or cells of different sizes. There has recently been a trend among producers towards more cells per tray, which decreases the need for growing medium and increases the number of seedlings or transplants produced per unit area. The most frequently used mixtures for vegetable seedling and transplant production are based on peat. In recent years, the question of replacing peat by a horticultural substrate has become more important due to ecological problems and has forced the horticultural industry to consider new alternatives. The international trend for substrate development tends towards the use of natural resources and renewable raw materials. Wood fiber substrates are a good alternative to peat, but they possess a small water holding capacity. This could pose a greater problem if the substrate volume for seedling and transplant production is reduced. In Germany, lettuce seedlings are usually produced in press pots (soil blocks). Plants grown in smaller cells with restricted root volumes and in growing media with limited water holding capacity could perform poorly after being transplanted in field conditions.

Growth parameters of lettuce seedlings, transplant shock as well as the later growth of lettuce in the field were investigated when the pot size was reduced to 25 cm3 (160 cells in Vefi Plug trays). Wood fiber substrates were suitable for the cultivation of vegetable seedlings. Lettuce seedling growth in a fine wood fiber substrate showed a better root mass and a lower leaf/root dry weight ratio compared to other organic growing media in use. A reduction of the pot size decreased the quality of lettuce seedling parameters. However, no differences in lettuce yield were found after transplanting to the field. Certainly, culture methods such as, for instance, irrigation and a good root development of seedlings in wood fiber substrates have been responsible for these results.

Keywords: vegetable seedling, vegetable transplants, container, container size, cell size, root restriction, transplant shock, seedling trays, press pot, wood fiber substrate, organic substrate, Lactuca sativa L.

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