• Germany's news in English
 

Farmers prepare for EU subsidy cuts

Published: 19 Nov 2012 08:39 GMT+01:00

On a vast farm in former Communist East Germany, payments from the EU's Common Agricultural Policy are seen as a necessary evil to keep the wolf from the door but cause huge administrative headaches.

"It's a lot of bureaucracy and a lot of effort to file these demands every year," complains Hans-Dieter Gabel, buried under paperwork in his office on the farm in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania in north-eastern Germany.

"I'm very critical" of the CAP, said Gabel, president of the enormous Torney agricultural collective, a hangover from Communist times, where he has toiled for more than 30 years.

Despite receiving some €500,000 per year from the policy, he said he would "rather have no money from Brussels," which he sees as sprawling and out-of-touch administration 900 kilometres away.

"It's a radical idea but then we would have no obligations and no control over us," the 56-year-old farmer said.

Nevertheless, on a tour of the barn with 70 calves ready to be slaughtered, the cows grazing in the fields and the silos packed with barley, Gabel admits that the cash is "a safety net" for his firm and his staff.

The CAP, which will be one of the main battlegrounds at an EU summit later this week, was designed to enable farms to survive poor harvests, spikes in raw material costs or plunges in agricultural prices.

As Europe's top economy, Germany gives most to the CAP - paying €8.7 billion annually into the pot - but it is also the third-largest recipient (behind France and Spain), with its farmers receiving €5.6 billion.

However, the difference of €3.1 billion makes Germany by far the biggest net contributor to the CAP pot, shelling out more than twice as much as Britain, one of the main opponents of the fund.

German Agriculture Minister Ilse Aigner has defended the CAP, saying it "provides financial means for the protection of the environment, animal welfare and consumer standards in Europe."

But Gabel took a slightly different view.

"Everyone says that farmers are the winners from the CAP but it's not true. The real winners are the consumers because without the CAP we could not produce goods so cheaply," he said.

Agriculture in Germany continues to bear the hallmarks of its previous division, with small and mainly family-operated farms in the west and south, and enormous collectives in the east.

Gabel's Torney collective, named after a brook that runs through the village of Pripsleben, is a perfect example, with 1,300 hectares of corn, rapeseed, barley, potatoes and beetroot, plus 300 hectares of pasture.

In addition, Gabel farms hundreds of cows, calves and pigs for meat, sold locally throughout the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania in the form of salamis, hams and cutlets.

After what promises to be long and painful negotiations on the budget in Brussels, Gabel's half-million-euro annual support is likely to be slashed, said Frank Offermann, an agricultural expert from Germany's Thünen Institute.

While some EU countries want the budget slashed, others want the funds redistributed. "In either case, the transfers to German agriculture will diminish," said Offermann.

If a proposed cap on the handouts per farm is introduced, "it will cost us €200,000," said Gabel.

But he is not without a more modern plan B. Rather than wrestling with the red tape needed for CAP handouts, he is busy renting out the roofs of his barns for solar panels and his fields for wind energy turbines.

AFP/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

09:09 November 19, 2012 by wethepeople2012
"It's a lot of bureaucracy and a lot of effort to file these demands every year,"

That's the point! If it was too easy, then everyone would continue kicking the can down the road and not look for alternatives.

Why do you think Germans dread going to the German unemployment office? If it was such a pleasant experience and the employees were all so full of smiles-then everyone would stay on unemployment!
12:26 November 19, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
Do I see child labour being used in the picture? Shame on whoever this farmer is.
13:58 November 19, 2012 by michael4096
She is far too clean to be child labour in a spud field
19:04 November 19, 2012 by raandy
There is a place here in Berli where you and family can go and pick potatoes as they dig them. kids love it.

Subsidy cuts will result in higher meat and vegetable prices.
Today's headlines
Constitutional Court allows 'FCK CPS' sticker

Constitutional Court allows 'FCK CPS' sticker

The Constitutional Court decided on Tuesday that it is within someone's right to freedom of expression to wear the FCK CPS logo, but only if the insult is aimed at police in general. READ  

Nepal earthquake
At least one German confirmed dead in Nepal
Search and rescue efforts are ongoing in Nepal. Photo:DPA

At least one German confirmed dead in Nepal

The Foreign Ministry confirmed to The Local on Tuesday that one German citizen was killed in the earthquake that hit Nepal on Saturday. READ  

Germany may have 10m fewer people by 2060
Photo: DPA

Germany may have 10m fewer people by 2060

If low birth rates and high death rates continue as they are now, a major decline in Germany’s population is “inevitable,” the federal statistics office (Destatis) reported on Tuesday. READ  

Opinion
Germany should fear Brexit more than Grexit
British Pime Minister David Cameron has promised a referendum on EU membership. Photo: DPA

Germany should fear Brexit more than Grexit

With all European – and especially German – eyes on Greece, Michael Wohlgemuth asks why the EU isn't more worried about a British exit from the Union. READ  

Police shoot man dead in Rhineland-Palatinate
Photo: DPA

Police shoot man dead in Rhineland-Palatinate

A 40-year-old man died in hospital in Grünstadt, Rhineland Palatinate after being shot by police on Monday evening. READ  

Daimler hit with Greek corruption charges
German soldiers in a 'Unimog' truck made by Daimler. Photo: DPA

Daimler hit with Greek corruption charges

Greek prosecutors announced on Monday they are bringing charges against several Daimler managers, who they say were involved in multi-million euro bribes to Greek authorities. READ  

Germany's surrender order under the hammer
Admiral Dönitz (m) with Albert Speer (l) and General Alfred Jodl (r). Photo: DPA

Germany's surrender order under the hammer

Marooned on a naval base in northwest Germany, pinned down by advancing Allied forces and Adolf Hitler dead, the last leader of the Third Reich hammered out the surrender order. READ  

Merkel not yet 'Mutti' of the Twittersphere
Photo: DPA

Merkel not yet 'Mutti' of the Twittersphere

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is the only G7 leader not to have a Twitter account, according to a report on the social network released on Tuesday. READ  

Kindergarten wage negotiations fail
Photo: DPA

Kindergarten wage negotiations fail

The public services union Ver.di announced on Monday evening that negotiations over a pay increase for Kindergarten teachers had failed. Strikes will start at the end of next week and go on for an indefinite period. READ  

Deutsche Bank chief faces trial in Munich
Jürgen Fitschen (left) goes on trial in Munich today. Photo:DPA

Deutsche Bank chief faces trial in Munich

Deutsche Bank co-CEO Jürgen Fitschen is one of five defendants in a trial starting Tuesday accused of giving false testimony in a long-running legal battle with the defunct Kirch media group. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Features
Smart kids all want to work for BMW
National
Arms firms get a 'must do better' mark on ethics
Sport
Bayern's anticlimactic 25th Bundesliga win
Gallery
German beer day: take the tour
Features
Off to Norway at 18 km/hour
Shutterstock
Sponsored Article
10 things you didn’t know about Zagreb (and why you should go)
Gallery
The smileys Germans love to text
Sponsored Article
What expat parents should ask before choosing a school
National
Expats face Monday deadline to register to vote for UK election
Politics
A Greek learning politics in Germany
Features
The battle of the "Gates of Berlin"
National
Germany's favourite baby names of 2014
National
Germany's 'very poor' lobbying record
National
VIDEO: Mario Draghi suffers anti-ECB confetti attack
Politics
Merkel's 15 years at the top of German politics
Features
Spice up asparagus season with The Local's serving suggestions
Travel
Lowest of the low: how woman exploited Germanwings crash
Sport
Football and the €30,000 firework
Technology
Why scientists oppose killer robots
National
Germanwings co-pilot 'searched suicide info'
Technology
Electrifying 'Ostalgia'
National
Which city is Germany's worst for drivers?
National
'Cannibal cop' gets 8 years
Can the 'nightmare' of a pilot downing a plane be prevented?
National
LIVE: Co-pilot suspected of crashing plane
Pupils mourn lost classmates
National
Freed after 25 years on death row
National
Cologne Cathedral returns from space
Features
Paddy's Day, Berlin style
Is your workload 'out of control'? You're not alone...
National
Why east Germans are happy to get it on on camera
National
What would you do with a 250-year-old pretzel?
Features
Just why is the German flag Schwarz, Rot, Gold?
Business & Money
Getting German workers and bosses thinking positive
National
Uplifting thoughts to get you through the last week of winter
National
Who wants the Olympics more - Hamburg or Berlin?
National
Last-minute drama of Germany's Eurovision 2015 entry
National
German photographer takes world's top prize
Features
Meet the woman getting Germans to drink more – and better – beer
Gallery
Get inspired for International Women's Day with German heroes
Green party proposes first-ever cannabis legalization plan
Gallery
In pictures: Germany's seven most livable cities
National
Singapore canes Germans for train graffiti
Politics
Surprise! Germans love feeling like they run the EU
Politics
Anger over plan to show women what men earn
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

7,170
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd
?>