From "Reports on Agriculture", number 1, April 2005

Statement on the proposal for the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) Regulation, COM (2004) 490

Of the Scientific Advisory Board on Agricultural Policy, Sustainable Farm Management and Rural Development at the Federal Ministry of Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture

The Regulation aims at enhancing the competitive capacity of farming and forestry, supporting the environment and the farming sector as well as at improving the quality of life in rural areas and their economic diversification. A package of measures, that largely matches the one currently in effect, is used to achieve this target. Yet, the instruments under the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) Regulation are more target-oriented and easier to apply in administrative terms. In the short to medium-term, the financial support of the competitive capacity can be justified by the great pressure for adjustment on the European farming sector, at present, and the provision of public services. In the long-term, the EU must concentrate on the creation and monitoring of fair competition rules and should only grant financial support for the provision of public goods. The compensatory allowance should only be granted in mountain areas so as to preserve open spaces there and a readiness to produce. The compensatory allowance is no longer justified in the other less-favoured areas to cushion nature-induced cost disadvantages in production. Due to their additionality, the measures under this Regulation must be coordinated with those under the first pillar of the common agricultural policy and other regional programmes at a small-scale level. The restriction of farm support to micro-farms in the case of individual measures can exert undesirable structural effects in Germany especially because the regime currently in force also includes medium-sized farms that would then drop out. It would make more sense to curb financial support per farm. The Advisory Board welcomes the unification of the financing and programming frameworks that this Regulation will achieve. The evaluation processes should be deepened by means of ambitious analyses so as to disclose long-term effects, in particular. The Advisory Board suggests a curtailment of the first pillar, as a matter of priority, if a reduction of the financing limit for the common agricultural policy should be required.

Livestock production in Germany - perspectives seen from the production side

By Albert Sundrum, Kassel

Compared to international standards, the competitiveness of livestock production in Germany is limited due to a high number of small farms and a high diversity as well as a high variation in the conditions of production. This diversity and variation raise the question to whether a one-sided strategy that focuses primarily on the minimisation of production costs is accurate to generate the potential of the additional value in the context of production and marketing of animal products.

This paper deals with the advantages and disadvantages of different local factors in relation to the competitiveness of livestock production. Furthermore, the three most relevant strategies for added value are discussed with regard to their potentials and limitations. These are minimising production costs by intensification, production of high product and process qualities and organic livestock production. Special attention is paid to the limitations of animal production on the farm level.

Due to the diversity and the variation in individual conditions of competition and production, it can be concluded that the one-sided strategy of minimising production costs is not suited on its own to reach the goal. This strategy exceeds the marginal productivity when economical advantages are exhausted by undesirable side-effects such as an increase in animal health disorders, environmental damage or a reduction in the taste of animal products. Exceeding the undesirable side-effects can provoke a reduction in the consumer´s purchase and can threaten to jeopardize the purchasing power of the local market.

An increase in diversification of products is recommended by the means of defined product and process qualities. This enlarges the diversity of animal products for heterogeneous consumer groups and provides better options for the single farm to make it possible to adapt to the demands of a graded production of quality.

In this context, the assessment and remuneration of additional values in relation to product and process qualities by means of the production method or by procedural measures are not validated and justified. In contrast, a result-oriented and evidence-based proof on the farm level is necessary to regain confidence and credibility of the consumers and to minimise distortion of competition. The sooner livestock produc­tion in Germany faces the diversity and the multiple challenges on level of farm and down-stream sectors, the better it will be able to set the course to provide an economical and sustainable base for as high as possible a number of remaining farms. With regard to the outlined problems, an ongoing process without modification can be expected to provide perspective only for a comparable low number of livestock farms.

The Reform of the Common Agricultural Policy - Analysis and consequences from the point of view of environmental and nature protection -

By Jochen Kantelhardt, Christian Ganzert, Martin Hofstetter, Christine Hebauer and Alois Heißenhuber, Freising-Weihenstephan

The objective of the research project was to provide sound information and recommendations in order to integrate environmental and nature protection aspects into the agricultural policy reform. The study con­centrated on the "first pillar" of the Common Agricultural Policy (market and price regulations). In order to link the scientific research as closely as possible to the ongoing political reform process, a working group of policy experts was set up to provide continuous consultation during the project. The results indi­cate that the Luxembourg agreements offer a range of opportunities for strengthening environmental and nature protection aspects in agriculture. In particular decoupling leads to a reduction of production incen­tives for farms, which are potentially over-exploiting natural resources. The greatest challenge of the Luxembourg agreements is to maintain land use in less favoured areas. In the long-term it seems to be necessary to couple subsidies to a greater extent to environmental aspects.

The determinants of the spatial distribution of organic farming in Germany

By Barbara Bichler, Christian Lippert, Hohenheim, Anna Maria Häring, Eberswalde and Stephan Dabbert, Hohenheim

Organically managed land is spread unevenly throughout Germany and shows regional concentrations. The spatial distribution of organic farming can be influenced by several factors. Site-related factors of farms are regionally differentiated and can influence the spatial distribution of organic farming. The spa­tial contiguity of farms with each other is also considered as a site-related factor (agglomeration effects).

These factors with a potential influence on the spatial distribution of organic farming can be divided into four categories: natural factors, farm-structural factors, socio-economic factors and policy-related factors. The influence of these factors on the spatial distribution of organic farming were analysed by several statistical methods: autoregressive models, analysis of variance and Spearman correlation. The most important result of this analysis is the highly significant influence of spatial contiguity (agglomera­tion effects) on the spatial distribution of organic farming.

Nature Indicators for Agriculture

By Rainer Oppermann, Mannheim, Dorothee Braband, Bad Sassendorf and Silke Haack, Eberswalde

The aim of the project "nature indicators for agricultureö was to develop a practicable and efficient tool for monitoring, assessing and evaluating the biotic and landscape benefits of agriculture on the farm level. The focus was laid on the feasibility of the method: farmers should be able to assess the biotic and landscape benefits on the farm by themselves. The method has been tested on 42 farms of 13 - 1900 ha size with different farming systems and structures throughout Germany - from the southwest (Baden-Württemberg) to the northeast (Brandenburg) of Germany. The testing was performed by the farmers as well as by scientists.

Thirty-eight indicators have been worked out, which allow to assess the "ecological stateö in the field of biotic resources on the farm level. Twenty-two of them are suitable for evaluating the "ecological achievementsö in the field of biotic resources on the farm level. A final set of ten indicators in five categories was chosen as a set of core-indicators:

  • Spatial diversity

    • Number of crops (crop variety) and grassland types (grassland variety)
    • Length of field edges and landscape elements [metre per hectare] (edge-density)
  • Species diversity

    • Share of farmland that is rich in plant species (presence of a certain amount of indicator plant species)
    • Share of farmland which is very rich in plant
  • Crop and livestock diversity

    • Share of rare or endangered crop species
    • Share of rare or endangered breeds
  • Landscape element diversity

    • Share of landscape elements (for example hedges, ditches, field margins)
    • Share of landscape elements of acceptable quality (quality assessment of landscape elements)
  • Extensively used farmland

    • Share of extensively used farmland
    • Share of extensively used farmland which is rich in indicator species (quality assessment of extensively used area)

The application of the indicators is possible on different levels: on farm level, on regional and national level against the background of agri-environmental policy schemes and environmental monitoring schemes.

The surveys on the farms in 2001 and 2002 have shown that the developed set of indicators reflects very well the ecological state on farm level. Furthermore the use of the tool seems easy enough to be put into a wider range of practice. In order to be used as an efficient evaluation tool on the farm level and finally be implemented as an official agri-environmental assessment tool, further steps have to be taken, e. g. regional goals concerning the shares or/and the "target-speciesö (in the category species diversity) have to be defined. In addition to assessing and evaluating the tool might very well contribute to the environmental awareness as well as promote the integration of environmental issues into farming practice.

Point value method within the scope of an early warning system for farms that are at risk of losing their livelihood

By Thomas Annen, Gülzow

Experiences in agricultural extension services show that the livelihoods of farms are often threatened because economic problems are discovered too late. An inter-farm comparison system has been developed at the Research Centre for Agriculture and Fisheries of the Land of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. With the help of this system, farmers are able to assess their economic situation more objectively and to react more quickly to economic problems.

This system is based on nine key figures from the annual accounts of the last five years. A point value is calculated from the percentage ranks of the individual figures and then compared with the values of the other farms in the sample. The results are presented in charts and text form and should also be easy to understand for farmers without any experience in the analysis of balance sheets.

What are the factors leading to the disintegration of regional initiatives? - Conclusions for the promotion and practical work of regional initiatives -

By Karsten Gees, Salzkotten, René Queren, Neuhaus an der Pegnitz, and Bernd Blümlein, Ansbach

The subject of this survey is to examine the reasons for the failure or success of regional initiatives. The persons in charge of the respective initiatives were questioned and they evaluated different factors for success or failure. We collected the data between August 2003 and February 2004 while updating the database of the webpage The data base for this survey included a total of 53 regional initiatives. This corresponds to 12.7% of all initiatives registered in the database in August 2003. These initiatives can be subdivided in two groups. The first group with 20 projects includes regional initiatives which were initiated by promotional funding and which now, this is after funding has ended, function as independent businesses or have been integrated into businesses. The second group includes 33 projects which were all discontinued.

The 53 regional initiatives operated in different fields of action. "Consulting and educationö as well as "agriculture and marketingö are the most successful fields of action, representing 80% of the projects which are now independent businesses. In addition to the field of action, the number of institutions and partners involved seems to have a major influence on the success of regional initiatives. One in two pro­jects established by more than five cooperating institutions or more than ten producers were able to con­tinue as independent businesses.

The persons in charge of the initiatives considered the success factors "self-motivation", "access to re­sources", "competent key persons" and "quality and price criteria" as fundamental. Other factors such as "partners and good connections" as well as "marketing skills of the stakeholders" also play a vital role. Finally, there is a discussion of conclusions relating to the continued support of these initiatives and to potential approaches to aid.

Machinery rings in Upper Austria - member intentions and satisfaction

By Christoph Walla and Walter Schneeberger, Wien

Austria has a long tradition of cross-farm machinery use in the form of machinery rings. A membership survey was carried out on 25 such rings in Upper Austria, as part of a quality assurance initiative con­cerning their advisory and other services. The results are presented in this paper. Members are more aware of those services which all machinery rings offer since many years than those which only some individual rings have added to their program (for example help with legal issues concerning trade, tax and social security). Members also want to be more active within the machinery ring service co-operative and the machinery ring personnel leasing co-operative. The machinery ring is predominantly associated with positive qualities, and satisfaction with both executive units and machinery rings as a whole is very high. Satisfaction profiles were developed for the executive units and for completion of assignments. Four clusters were drawn up based on the changes planned by the farms for the next few years: expanding, multi-income, stable, and scaling-down / winding-down farms.

The problems of the official agricultural extension services in Turkey with regard to the accession to the European Union

By Aydin Gürel, Tekirdag

The paper analyses the structures and organisational issues of the agricultural extension services rendered by the competent agriculture offices within the remit of the Turkish Ministry of Agriculture. For this pur­pose, a study was carried out which involved eight agriculture offices in Turkey´s Marmara region and interviews with 216 members of the agricultural extension staff.

The agriculture offices in Turkey are subdivided into six divisions. They are subordinate to the Ministry of Agriculture. The offices are responsible for many administrative tasks which they usually have to carry out under considerable pressure of time.

The study revealed that the main problems of the agricultural extension services lie in the bureaucratic inflexibility, the volume of administrative tasks, the lack of equipment, the internal and external commu­nication deficits and the personal, methodical and professional skills of the agricultural extension staff.

This study provides an overview of the current problems of the official agricultural extension services in Turkey with regard to Turkey´s potential accession to the European Union.

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