Germany’s farmers want to grow more grain to alleviate global supply bottlenecks. “Every additional ton of wheat weakens Russia’s aggressive position,” said Farmers’ President Joachim Rukwied in the run-up to the German Farmers’ Day, which takes place in Lübeck on Tuesday and Wednesday. It cannot be that Russia steals wheat from Ukraine and the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov acts as a “do-gooder” who then offers this wheat to needy countries in Africa or the Middle East. “We cannot stand by and watch,” Rukwied appealed to Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir (Greens).

According to the rules of European agricultural subsidies, farmers would have to set aside four percent of their land in the coming year in order to promote nature and biodiversity. In view of the war in Ukraine, Rukwied would like it to be just two percent. This would allow an additional 200,000 hectares to be used and 1.4 million tons of grain to be harvested. France has already released 300,000 hectares.

In Ukraine, which is one of the breadbaskets of Europe. there are more than 20 million tons of grain in the silos that cannot be transported away because the seaports are mined. Rukwied warned that only a small part could be transported by rail and road. It is also unclear where the new harvest is to be stored. The farm president fears significant harvest losses. This also has consequences for prices: wheat is expensive.

A ton was traded at almost 400 euros on Monday. Nevertheless, many German farmers are not benefiting from the price increase. Farmers sell a large part of their harvest in advance at fixed prices. Some farmers have sold their wheat for 210 euros per ton, said Rukwied. Now many are faced with the question of what prices to set for the 2023 harvest.

Compared to the worries of the pig farmers, however, these are luxury problems. Because of the drop in pork prices, many companies are closing. In 2020, the number of pigs in Germany fell by 2.5 million, while Spain increased the pig population by 3.5 million animals. “We are experiencing a shift out of Germany,” warned Rukwied.

He asks Özdemir to make improvements to his planned postage labeling. According to the minister’s plans, this should initially only cover fresh pork in the trade. Cattle would have to be included and the gastronomy, says Rukwied.

It is also wrong that the labeling only applies to pig fattening and omits piglets. “It can’t be the case that piglets that have been castrated abroad without anesthesia are then raised in German animal welfare stalls,” says Rukwied, annoyed. For the German piglet producers, this is a “brutal punch in the face”.

With a view to the German asparagus and strawberry farmers, who no longer harvest their fields because the labor costs are higher than the producer prices, Rukwied is campaigning for a uniform European minimum wage. Consumers would have to reckon with the fact that food prices will continue to rise. The prices for nitrogen fertilizers have quadrupled, emphasizes Rukwied.

At the farmer’s day, the way should be cleared for a vice president. The association wants to become more female. In addition, the farmers’ association is working on a vision of the future for farmers. “We want to be more clearly in the middle of society,” said the head of the association.