• Germany edition
 
Farmers prepare for EU subsidy cuts
Photo: DPA

Farmers prepare for EU subsidy cuts

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

Don't miss...X
Left Right

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
Merkel & Obama fire warning to Russia
German Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Barack Obama during a meeting at the G7 Summit in July 2014. Photo: DPA

Merkel & Obama fire warning to Russia

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Barack Obama warned Friday that Russia was triggering a "dangerous escalation" of the conflict in Ukraine due to its military presence and shelling there. READ  

Bayern kick off title defence with win
Bayern's galaxy of stars celebrate after scoring against VfL Wolfsburg on Friday. Photo: DPA

Bayern kick off title defence with win

Reigning German champions Bayern Munich got the new Bundesliga season off to a perfect start with a dramatic 2-1 win over VfL Wolfsburg on Friday. READ  

Size does matter in this case, rules judge
Photo:Shutterstock

Size does matter in this case, rules judge

A judge has ordered a deliveryman's manhood to be measured after he claimed in court that it was too small for him to be guilty of exhibitionism. READ  

Crimea annexation unnerves Germans: Poll
Ukrainian soldiers near Luhansk, Ukraine. Photo: DPA

Crimea annexation unnerves Germans: Poll

Almost two thirds of Germans fear Russia plans further land grabs in Ukraine, according to an opinion poll released on the eve of Chancellor Angela Merkel's visit to the conflict-torn country. READ  

Ice bucket challenge gets dumped on Germany
Actress Natascha Ochsenknecht gets doused. Photo: DPA

Ice bucket challenge gets dumped on Germany

German football players, German tennis players, German TV characters and Germany's latest Topmodel winner are on it, but is it actually making a difference? READ  

Defence chief shot down over shooting quip
Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen tries on military body armour. Photo: DPA

Defence chief shot down over shooting quip

Amid heated debates over arms for Iraq, the Ukraine crisis, and Germany's foreign military involvement despite its WWII legacy, defence chief Ursula von der Leyen stirred a debate of her own on Friday after a dud World Cup gag. READ  

Expat Dispatches
He'll take my name: yes he's really sure!
He says "I will!" Photo: DPA

He'll take my name: yes he's really sure!

A quick and uncomplicated conversation between a recently engaged couple concluded that the husband-to-be would take on his fiancee's surname. However, no one was more surprised by people's reactions than Australian expat Liv Hambrett. READ  

Newborn white lion cubs are pride of the circus
Photo:DPA

Newborn white lion cubs are pride of the circus

Four white lions born into the Krone Circus during its stop in Magdeburg yesterday find themselves in a Germany reliving a decades-old fight over exotic animals displayed for profit. READ  

Heart centre accused of fiddling transplant list
A donor heart gets delivered to the DHZB. Photo: DPA

Heart centre accused of fiddling transplant list

UPDATE: The German Heart Institute of Berlin (DHZB) is under investigation for attempted manslaughter after evidence showed a doctor manipulated patient data to get them a new heart faster. READ  

Germany sues Swiss bank over missing marks
Julius Bär bank. Photo:DPA

Germany sues Swiss bank over missing marks

Berlin is suing one of Switzerland's largest banks in its bid to recuperate hundreds of million euros that went missing during the reunification of East and West Germany, the bank said Thursday. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Society
A German journalist shares the story of his US arrest in Ferguson
Photo: DPA
National
Berlin's senate puts the brakes on Über
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The mysteries of Berlin's abandoned theme park
Photo: DPA
Culture
How I deal with my German Hausmeister
Photo: Ingrid Eulenfan/flickr
Gallery
Nine German treats you'll want to eat right now (and one you won't)
Photo: DPA
Society
Who's getting German citizenship?
Photo: DPA
Culture
How World War I changed Germany forever
Photo: APA/DPA
Gallery
The 12 best words in Austrian German
Photo: DPA
Society
'Look at those German shanty towns!'
Photo: Europeana.de 1914 - 1918
Gallery
A German soldier's life behind WWI lines
Education
Raising the bar for law & business in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
Photo: DPA
Features
The Local List Archive - Your guide to all things German
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Photo: DPA
Culture
Sprechen Sie Deutsch? 10 reasons why you should.
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

3,365
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd