From "Reports on Agriculture", Exercise number 3, December 2008

Considering the Supply of Seasonal Farm Labour in Germany


Seasonal farm workers from Central- and Eastern European (CEE) countries temporarily migrate to Germany each year and provide important labour input for a high revenue branch of German agriculture. The demand for seasonal farm labour increased dramatically between 1994 and 2006, mainly due to extended production of asparagus and strawberries. However, the supply of seasonal farm labour from CEE countries declined for the first time in 2006 and this has created severe problems for German farms that depend on such labour.

The German government had aimed to restrict farm labour migration in order to enhance the employment in agriculture of jobless German residents. However, the results of this attempt have been disappointing. The regional concentration of labour intensive crops does not match the regional concentration of unemployment within Germany, and the regulation of social welfare payments in Germany sharply reduces employment incentives for low paid, temporary work in Germany. At the same time, the liberalization of labour migration between EU member states has created new, often more attractive job opportunities for migrant workers from CEE, for instance in Britain. Policy makers in Germany did not take these fundamental socio-economic relations sufficiently into account when they decided to impose restrictions on the farm labour supply from CEE, although the efforts of the German labour administration, to match jobless Germans with available seasonal jobs are understandable and have had some limited success.

The gap in farm labour supply that has occurred since 2006 will oblige farmers to adjust production strategies through higher wages and innovative forms of legal work contracts (Ltd. & Co. GbR) with CEE workers. Incentives to increase mechanization and resort to informal employment of CEE workers will also grow, but are subject to restrictions.

Active citizenship in rural development: Five communities in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania

By LUTZ LASCHEWSKI, CLAUDIA NEU, Braunschweig, und THEODOR FOCK, Neubrandenburg

Partnership approaches have for various reasons met with increasing interest in the field of rural development and governance. Consequently, higher expectations are placed on the capacities of civil society and civic engagement. With regard to the new Länder, some doubts have been expressed with regard to such capacities. However, in the face of the declining welfare state, the expectations placed on the self-management capacities of civil society have already risen, in fact. In this paper five "active" communities in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania are described and forms, achievements and constraints of civic engagement are discussed.

The results suggest that networks of civic engagements are more widespread even in the most rural areas than is generally assumed by regional research and politics. Cultural depletion and depopulation are not an inevitable fate. Therefore, civic engagement as an important development factor deserves much greater consideration than it has so far received in Eastern Germany. The development of infrastructure and civic engagement appear to be interconnected. Thus, the regionalisation of the formerly local infrastructure requires an answer to the question of how a balance can be struck between economic efficiency and social integration.

Economic potential of autoguidance systems


The development and adoption of GPS-based guidance systems in agriculture can be attributed to a multitude of potentials. Some benefits are difficult to assess, in part, or even impossible to evaluate in monetary terms. The aim of this contribution is to appraise the economic potential of an autoguidance system due to the reduction of overlaps and sight-independent operation when visibility is poor.

Within the field tests overlaps of all relevant operations for the main crop production have been determined. The tests were carried out on an agricultural farm in central Germany with a GreenStarTM AutoTrac guidance system by John Deere. The annual costs therefore amount to 2700 €.

On the basis of a model that has been developed for the economical valuation of an autoguidance system, the impact of the use of this technology on a model farm is tested. Finally, it is possible to define the Point of Break Even of investment under different scenarios. When the autoguidance system is utilised for tillage operations and sowing, it requires a model farm size ranging between 283 and 303 ha. If it is utilised exclusively for tillage operations, the amount of Break Even ranges between 700 and 832 ha. In case of technology use only for sowing, about 476 ha are required to amortize the investment.

Furthermore, the effect due to the extension of daily working time to 24 h in case of sowing is tested. At a model farm size of 1400 ha, the use of technology allows dispensing with a second sowing machine. The operating profit thus improves by 7199 € p.a.

Innovative dialogue for the development of multifunctional agriculture in the Hochsauerland district
- Identifying opportunities …! and seizing opportunities…./


Which consequences arise from the fundamental changes of the European agricultural policy for the development of the multifunctional agriculture in the Hochsauerlandkreis? Which need for action and which possible courses of action result from these changes at company and regional level? Professional staff from the chamber of agriculture of North-Rhine-Westphalia dealt with these questions in co-operation with farmers, scientists and representatives of the Hochsauerlandkreis and other institutions.

The innovative approach chosen here, which particularly involves agricultural operators through panel discussion, could also be transferred to other regions.
The explanatory notes on keywords like communication, conversational structure, win-win-situations, task management, labour input and future relevance should be heeded in related projects in other regions in addition to references to panel methodology.

Milk production and emissions of greenhouse gases


The reduction of greenhouse gases is an issue of worldwide importance. Using genetic engineering to further increase the protein content of milk while at the same time reducing fat content, and maintaining a high level of production (e.g. 9000 kg of milk/cow/year), leads to a reduction in the amount of energy expended (for the production of milk fat) and - at the same time - to an increase in the amount of feed protein required for the production of milk protein. This has only a relatively small influence on the excretions (e.g. N excretion, CH4 emission) of the individual animal (at a constantly high production level). Related to the amount of milk protein produced, the excretions are, however, lower making the positive effect on the environment more evident.

Taking the calculated methane emission and N excretion into account, the increase in the animal performance (with particular attention being paid to ensuring an increased milk-protein content) and a possible reduction in the number of ruminants would currently be the most effective measure for obtaining a decrease in methane emissions in the short term.

The influence of the cows’ utilization time on the CH4 issues has also been calculated. A longer utilization time reduced the CH4 emissions per kg of produced milk.

Keywords: milk, methane emission, greenhouse potential, resource saving, cattle breeding

The time-spatial dynamics of U. S. beef production


Beef production is the leading sector of U. S. agriculture and of great importance for the overall economy. This paper first describes the development from extensive grazing of the Great Plains grasslands to intensive cattle fattening in feedlots. Then it is shown that the process of sectoral concentration, i. e. the continuous decrease of the number of farms with cattle fattening, ran parallel to the spatial shift of the centre of cattle fattening from the Midwest to the central and southern states of the Great Plains. There, large feedlots were installed, based on the production of irrigated corn and sorghum. Those feedlots are presently dominating U. S. beef production. Slaughterhouses and packing plants followed the feedlots within a few decades. New organisational patterns originated. They combined extensive grazing of the grasslands, intensive fattening in feedlots, slaughtering, further processing, and marketing, without, however, forming closed supply chains as in poultry meat and pork production.

The continuous expansion of U. S. beef production made the USA to one of the leading beef exporting countries. Nevertheless, more than one million t of beef have to be imported annually because of a high per capita consumption. In beef trade, close relations exist between the three NAFTA member states. The expected increase of bio-energy production and stricter environmental protection legislation will have far reaching impacts on the future development of U. S. beef production. Both will result in higher production costs and reduce its competitiveness. If, however, rising feed costs will initiate a spatial shift back to the former corn belt, is a still open question. A good argument against such a prediction is the fact that corn consumption by bio-ethanol plants is highest in the centre of the former corn belt.

Material use of biogenic resources


The paper provides an overview about the economic importance and market relevance of different product groups concerning the material use of biogenic resources. The market share of biogenic resources is rather limited in most of the analyzed application fields of material use. Mostly these products have higher prices compared to those produced on a fossil raw material basis. In addition, potential users often show significant lack of information concerning the quality or the product characteristics of products based on biogenic resources. The most promising short-term market opportunities are expected in market niches, in which products based on biogenic resources have specific quality advantages due to their product characteristics. Furthermore, it is necessary to develop and implement target-oriented and co-ordinated marketing activities within a specific application field. In particular actors with a bottleneck-function (like e.g. architects, handicrafts people, advicers) should be informed about the characteristics and advantages of the different products based on biogenic resources so that they are able to convince the final customers about the advantages of such products.

The organic certification in Germany from the vantage point of the producers: proposals for policy development


Last year (18th June 2007) the Agriculture and Fisheries Council of the EU agreed upon a new council regulation (EC No. 834/2007) on production and labelling of organic products to meet the changing requirements (e.g. increasing internationalisation) for the organic market. In the future control and certification of the organic sector will be taken over by public authorities throughout Europe. They will only pass on exactly specified tasks to private organic certification bodies. Altogether the new regulation can be seen as a more state-run and formal control system. The starting point for this paper is the described institutional change of the organic certification system. This study was based on a survey of 126 German organic farmers.

The empirical study focuses on two main questions: on the one hand the farmers’ perception of the reliability of the certification system and on the other hand the potential of policy development options for the organic certification system. The potential of the system is particularly crucial, because the national executive laws have not yet been determined and a wide political scope still exists.

The results of the survey show that the majority of the farmers are pleased with the current certification system, but they criticise the increasing bureaucratic costs and the low operational benefits. The interviewees say that they are satisfied with the inspectors’ work during the certification process; however, one-third of the farmers believe that the percentage of black sheep in the organic business will increase. These results show the contradictory perception of the reliability of the certification system. The farmers do not have any certain or definite opinion on the future orientation of the EU Certification process. The majority agree that neither state control nor control by private organisations is the right solution. They instead prefer the idea of a consultancy-orientated scheme to insure quality for organic farming.

From the political point of view, the current system, i. e. private certification bodies under state control, should be continued and further developed. In addition to this, the aim should also be to extend consulting services and implement a higher risk orientation during the inspections.

"Agri-Food Business: Global Challenges – Innovative Solutions"
Results of the 2008 IAMO Forum in Halle from 25 until 27 June 2008


The article presents the most important results of the 2008 IAMO Forum on "Agri-Food Business: Global Challenges – Innovative Solutions" which took place on 25-27 June in Halle (Saale), Germany. 171 participants from more than 20 countries discussed important global developments in the agri-food sector and its economic and political environment. The forum focused in particular on food quality and food safety, bio-energy and deregulation. Renowned scientists and leaders of international organisations such as the FAO and the EU held six keynote lectures. 11 sessions and two poster sessions with more than 35 papers and 40 posters offered deep insights into recent research.

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