Demographic Change: Encouraging Rural Areas
The BMEL strengthens own initiative and promotes innovative strategies with many different aid schemes, initiatives and pilot projects.
Demographic change will fundamentally alter Germany in the coming decades. "My contribution to reshaping our systems with a view to demographic givens is to boost the quality of life and opportunities, also for participation and access, and, in addition, to maintain the equal status of living conditions in the regions which are hit very differently by demographic change", Federal Minister Christian Schmidt emphasizes. Under its demographics strategy, the Federal Government is moving to shape the framework conditions in all phases and areas of life - from family, education, occupation and volunteer work to health - in a way that takes account of the requirements of demographic change.
Thematic priorities of the BMEL
Within its demographics strategy, the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) adds particular perspectives, especially on the thematic priorities "Strengthening regions affected by demographic change - boosting quality of life in rural and urban areas" as well as "Youth shaping rural futures" with a view to strengthening rural regions.
Since 2013 support schemes on integrated rural development (i.a. regional management and village renewal) have been taken into account the demographic development as an important aspect of the previous measures.
The Federal Rural Development Scheme has started in 2015 and aims at testing and supporting innovative rural development strategies. Its role is to contribute to keeping local communities in rural regions attractive and to support structurally disadvantaged regions. It hence also makes a contribution to implementing the Federal Government's Demographics Strategy. Model and demonstration projects as well as competitions put the focus on non-farming projects.
The model project "Land(auf)Schwung" ("Rural upswing") is an important part of the federal scheme. It is aimed at structurally lagging rural regions and addresses entrepreneurial people who decide themselves about innovative ideas and their implementation in the region on the basis of a regional budget. This scheme will support structurally disadvantaged rural regions in dealing actively with demographic change on the ground, in increasing regional value-added, in securing rural employment and hence in shaping the shrinking process. On the basis of scientific criteria, 39 rural districts were identified for the initial and qualification period. In June 2015, an independent jury will select ten to thirteen model regions. The three-year funding period will start in July 2015. In the entire project period, which lasts until the end of June 2018, the BMEL will earmark funds to the tune of EUR 1.2 to 1.5 million per region for the model project "Land(auf)Schwung".
More research on the impact of demographic change in rural regions
The government-run Thünen Institute of Rural Studies in Braunschweig has implemented various research projects on demographic change and its
- economic and
- settlement structure consequences in the past years.
Along these lines, challenges and possible solutions to issues regarding general services, such as
- local shopping facilities,
- disaster mitigation or medical treatment,
- the development of villages and towns,
- the voluntary service and
- regional labour markets
are examined and prepared for scientific policy support in this increasingly important policy area.
The Federal Government's demographics strategy
The cooperation between the Federal Government and its partners in implementing the demographics strategy has already yielded important results and recommended actions in the past legislative period. The working group "Strengthening rural areas in the context of demographic change" has presented a key issues paper explaining criteria to characterize particularly affected regions. During its elaboration it became clear that the regional challenges of the two fields of action "general services" and "regional economic power" differ significantly.
The series of consultations and working groups initiated in 2012 and involving partners from different departments and levels from federal states, municipalities, social partners, associations, industry, the scientific community and civil society will be continued and intensified during the 18th legislative term. The Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) adds special perspectives on rural areas in this process, especially on the thematic priorities "Strengthening regions affected by demographic change - boosting quality of life in rural and urban areas" as well as "Youth shaping rural futures".
At two more demographics summits - one was held on 22th September 2015 and one is to be held in spring 2017 - there will be a synopsis of the discussions and strategies developed until then at the different levels, and the jointly elaborated results will be presented to the public. In the meantime the Federal Government will intensify the interministerial government activities on designing the demographic change and further develop the demographics strategy of the Federal Government.
- As of:
- Understanding Farming - Facts and figures about German farming (PDF, 5 MB, accessible)
- German Agriculture - Facts and Figures (PDF, 3 MB, File does not meet accessibility standards.)
- The German Federal Government Agriculture Report, 2011 (PDF, 3 MB, File does not meet accessibility standards.)
- Map Agriculture and Forestries in Germany (jpg, 409 KB, File does not meet accessibility standards.)
- Agricultural products in Germany at a glance (infographics)