From "Reports on Agriculture", exercise book 3, Dezember 2011

Initiatives for “fair” milk prices: striking new paths in the (regional) marketing of milk

By Agnes Klein and Klaus Menrad, Weihenstephan-Triesdorf

In light of decreasing milk prices, several initiatives for milk were launched in recent years which aimed at fostering the marketing of regional milk products and claimed to directly support, or provide fair pricing for, domestic milk producers. The objective of this paper is to give an appraisal, description and systematisation of these recently launched regional marketing projects for milk and to identify the need for action for such projects. In recent years twelve regional marketing projects which claim to directly support milk producers were established in the German and Austrian milk sectors. These projects differ in terms of the area they cover as well as in terms of their understanding of “fairness”/“fair pricing”. The barriers in connection with such projects are diverse and are associated with aspects such as conflicts between different actors, the niche character of the project, or increased costs. Because of the diversity of identified barriers and weaknesses of the existing projects, need for action exists in different fields.

Relationsship between farm structure, milking technology and productivity – survey results from European dairy farmers

By Birthe Lassen, Braunschweig

Efficiency in the milking process is crucial for low production costs. Past studies fail to examine different milking technologies with respect to their international distribution and their productivity. Thus, it was the aim of the present study to collate estimations by dairy farmers about the current and future adoption of different milking technologies within selected countries in Europe. The study analyses the relationship between selected farm and site factors and the different milking technologies. It further studies the influence of different technologies on the productivity of the milking process. The underlying data was collected from 2611 farm managers from 19 European countries. Since the survey sample was not drawn as a random sample, the data cannot be taken as representative for the European dairy sector. However, survey results allow conclusions to be drawn for larger, successful, and future-oriented dairy farms.

At the time of the survey, most cows in the sample are being milked in herringbone parlours (42 %). Yet, by 2016 participants expect a strong decrease of herringbone parlours in exchange for automatic milking systems and rotaries. The decision to opt for a milking technology is mainly determined by farm factors (herd size, full-time/part-time farming, grazing, average milk yield) and country-specific aspects (e.g. wage rates) as well as personality characteristics (age, technical affinity). The productivity of the different milking technologies is influenced by different aspects: For automatic milking systems, these factors mainly comprise the stocking rate and the average milk yield. On the other hand, in group milking parlours or rotaries, it is mainly the number of milkers and the age of the technology (and therefore the technical equipment) that influence productivity.

The impact of transportation costs on the profitability of industrial hydrothermal carbonisation

By Gerd Eberhardt, Potsdam, Martin Odening, Berlin, Hermann Lotze-Campen, Potsdam, Berit Erlach, Berlin, Susanne Rolinski, Potsdam, Pia Rothe, Potsdam and Benjamin Wirth, Berlin

This article is about the profitability of hydrothermal carbonization (HTC), a process for converting biomass into biocoal on an industrial scale. The analysis is based on an ex-ante evaluation of production costs and an estimation of the biomass potential of straw, wood chips from short-rotation forestry and wood chips from forest residues in the German federal state of Brandenburg. A multi-stage location model is developed in order to investigate the influences of the transportation costs on the profitability of a hydrothermal carbonization plant. The location model makes it possible to quantify expected transportation flows and to minimize the overall costs. The model determines the intake radius of biomass for different locations as well as the amount of HTC coal that can be produced from different feedstock. Furthermore, costs and possible revenues of an HTC plant are calculated. Uncertainties regarding the available quantity of biomass are considered by investigating different scenarios. The main finding of the study is that under present conditions the production of HTC coal from straw and wood is not profitable in Brandenburg. However, in the event of a price rise of CO2 emission certificates the break-even point could be reached.

Development tendencies and potential of the market for combine harvesters in Germany

By Clemens Fuchs, Joachim Kasten, Christopher Ströbele and Mathias Urbanek, Neubrandenburg

Combine harvesters used today can achieve throughput rates of over 70 tons of grain per hour; however, their technical performance potential is currently not being exhausted by any means. In this paper, a survey of major harvester manufacturers and models is given and factors influencing the combine harvesting performance are presented.

The objective was to reflect the complexity due to factors like size of farm and field size as well as combine performance, environmental factors (weather, with impact on yield and number of hours available for combine harvesting). Therefore, Germany was divided into three combine-harvesting regions . Certain performance categories of combine harvesters were assigned, according to farm size and regional field sizes. Triangle distributions with assumptions for harvest size, field efficiency and harvest days are the basis for the applied Monte Carlo simulation, which shows the minimum capacity of combine harvesters necessary to reap the harvest safely.

The simulation results show that in Germany 44,385 units of combine harvesters of the three performance categories are necessary. However, the calculations also show that future domestic sales of combine harvesters will depend greatly on the service life of the units currently in use.

BMELV annual accounts in the face of the conflicting demands of commercial and tax accounting: Consequences of the German Accounting Law Modernisation Act on BMELV annual accounts

By Matthias Moser and Enno Bahrs, Hohenheim

The Agriculture Act requires the Federal Government to provide up-to-date information on the situation of agriculture at a regular basis. For this purpose it makes sense to use the data contained in the annual accounts that are drawn up under tax and commercial law. These offer a legally secure and comprehensible approach with comparably low transaction costs. Germany runs a test farm network which uses this data. In line with the Agriculture Act’s objective, it is preferable to take a commercial law approach to test farm reporting. The commercial accounts provide more meaningful data on the actual results of operation and net assets than tax law based annual accounts. However, most farmers only draw up an account under tax law so, in the past, a compromise had to be made between commercial and tax law requirements in the framework of test farm reporting. However, the recently adopted German Accounting Law Modernisation Act (BilMoG) has consequences for this compromise, as it has widened the gap between these two sets of accounting rules. In past years, the (reversed) authoritative principle, under which accounting choices made in the tax accounts had to be reflected on the commercial balance sheet, resulted in a close coordination between commercial and tax balance sheet. Now, however, the deletion of Section 5 Subsection 1 German Income Tax Code, amended version (EStG a. F.) is resulting in a divergence in the treatment of essential items in the two sets of accounts. This is partly due to tax law provisions motivated by economic policy, which were intended to promote e.g. investments into capital equipment (e.g. special depreciation allowances, creation of reserves, investment deduction amounts), but which also limit the economic value of the tax-bases annual accounts. In the past the provisions for the test farm network were able to deal with this problem, not least because of the (reversed) authoritative principle. However, this has become more difficult with the German Accounting Law Modernisation Act (BilMoG). A reaction to the BilMoG within the context of test farm reporting might include using the data from the commercial-law based annual accounts of companies obliged to prepare such accounts (especially legal persons). However, it is shown that though this procedure is viable with regard to the general value of the information it provides, it is problematic with regard to interregional and legal form comparisons. Another alternative could be to modify the profit breakdown within the BMELV annual accounts in future, in order to further increase the analytical usefulness of test farm reporting.

Institutional Change in Agricultural Administration and Agricultural Associations in East GermanyBefore and After Unification

By Axel Wolz, Halle (Saale)

The transition process in East Germany has been dominated by two separate, but closely-linked developments, namely the transition of the socialist central planning system into a market economy and pluralistic democracy on the one hand, and unification with West Germany on the other. This entailed a quick and radical break of the existing institutions and organisations, including a complete restructuring of the agricultural administration. This development not only led to a dismantling of the socialist “cadre administration” and the development of an administration in a “rational-legal sense” (23, p. 33), but also – at the same time – the adoption of the West German federal structure which required a territorial re-organisation from scratch. Besides the restructuring of the “general” agricultural administration, specialised agencies had to be established, e.g. for the administration of state-owned agricultural assets. While originally set-up for a limited period only, they proved to be required on a permanent basis. Besides the agricultural administration, the associations representing the rural population had to be re-organised. The re-organisation and unification of the German Farmers’ Union is of special significance as the two original associations represented completely different agricultural systems. Looking back, the transition of the agricultural administration and rural associations in East Germany seems to have been accomplished successfully. The lessons that can be derived for other countries in Central and Eastern Europe, however, are modest. The German experience seems to be of high relevance for the (potential) development on the Korean Peninsula. Here, both processes, i.e. transitional change and unification, will most probably take place simultaneously – like in Germany – and will not be able to be executed separately.

Food scandals and consumer behaviour options in everyday situations

By Axel Philipps, Hannover

Food scandals consist of three elements. At the beginning of food scandals there is human or organizational misconduct concerning food. Such events become scandals if scandalmongers make such an event public and find an audience. The article focuses on the audience and their reactions as consumers. Past research has provided little explanation for consumer reactions regarding insecurity, information behaviour, income or prices. However, based on consumers’ interpretations of food scandals, consumer options such as total, temporary or no abstinence of food at the centre of scandals are reconstructed in the article. Fifty open interviews were conducted and analysed in order to determine patterns in respect of consumer interpretation. In the study, six patterns of interpretation were identified.

Analysis and development opportunities for the agricultural sector in Azerbaijan

By Elman Muradov, Berlin

The agricultural sector plays a vital role in the labour market in rural areas; more than 38 % of the total workforce of Azerbaijan is employed in such rural areas. At the same time, the agricultural sector also contributes significantly to the country’s economic stability. Azerbaijan has a comparative edge in agricultural production due to its high soil fertility, its natural conditions and its geographic location. These advantages notwithstanding, the economic situation of the agricultural sector is not satisfactory.

Azerbaijan’s agricultural sector has undergone very different stages of development. These are mainly due to the close interaction between agriculture policy objectives and social change. This study analyses the current developments taking place within Azerbaijan’s agricultural sector in the context of changed market conditions and explains the resulting changes in agricultural production structures.

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