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January 18, 2018

Speech by the Minister of Food and Agriculture Chrsitian Schmidt - International Green Week Opening Ceremony on 18 January 2018 at 6 p.m.

• My colleague Mr. Porodzanov

• Commissioner Hogan, dear Phil,

• Commissioner Andriukaitis, dear Vytenis,

• My colleagues the agriculture ministers from around the world,

• Governing Mayor of Berlin,

• My colleagues the agriculture ministers of the federal States

• My colleagues of the parliaments,

• Dr. Göke,

• Dr. von Boetticher,

• Excellencies,

• Visitors to the Green Week

• and especially, President Rukwied,

• Our farmers

A cordial welcome, it is nice to see you here.

This evening, which marks the opening of the 83rd edition of the International Green Week, is a special occasion:

Today is 18 January 2018 - at just around 1800 hours.

2018 means that this century has come of age: it is 18 years old. Let us hope it has reached adulthood and in the future will behave the way it should.

In Jewish culture, which is inextricably linked with Germany, 18 is the number of the Hebrew word ’Chai’.

And Chai means LIFE.

And life is what this is all about here at the Green Week, where everything upon which life is founded is being shown: food and drink!

All of us owe the reason for our existence to the hard work of our farmers, to you, our hosts.

All of us owe the fact that we are able to enjoy so many healthy, safe and diverse food products in Germany today, more products than at any other time in our history, to our mainly small and medium-sized food businesses.

When we go to the shops we take this for granted.

Indeed, we expect all our foodstuffs, be they from a supermarket, kiosk or directly from the farm, to be healthy, safe and affordable.

Here in Europe we are blessed. The fact that we have a good climate bestows upon us a responsibility to ensure that people around the world are adequately taken care of and well fed.

We must jointly make an effort to ensure that everyone around the enjoys food security.

To do that we need a good and efficient farming industry.

For that we need you, the farmers’ families.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In Germany there is excitement in the air. A few days ago my colleagues and I attended all-night exploratory talks to hammer out the guidelines of Germany’s future policies.

I am delighted that I was successful in drawing greater attention to rural areas and agriculture. It is perfectly clear to everyone that the future of the farming industry determines the future of our society.

We want an economically durable and ecologically sustainable

farming industry.

And we want it here in Germany. And we are willing to invest in its future. Not to simply maintain the status quo, but to ensure we witness change.

Let me give some examples of what will happen in the future -

if the SPD agrees:

We will take up my suggestion for an animal welfare label: 79 per cent of consumers of all ages are in favour of a state-approved animal welfare label.

A state-approved animal welfare label is a good idea because it

it is neutral and creates a high level of trust.

It requires investment and even more investment which we will massively support.

I a grateful to everyone who has helped support this effort for greater animal welfare to date, including the industry initiative ’Tierwohl’.

In the long term everyone benefits from animal welfare:

animals, consumers, and farmers who stand to earn more from it.

The killing of chicks will come to an end. The Rewe supermarket chain will be the first to use a device promoted by us for early gender recognition in their hatcheries.

Supporting the future instead of simply renouncing the status quo. That is something we can do too. And we can do it in 2018.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The dramatic plunge in insect numbers requires urgent measures.

We must make a greater effort to support biodiversity, specifically:

a more diverse countryside, more areas for bees, more hedges, zones where plants can bloom, where fauna and flora are protected. We must strengthen the eco-system that is our woodlands by reducing pesticide use to the necessary minimum. And we must increase levels of organic production: the target is 20 per cent.

Furthermore, we must reduce the overall extent of farming areas, create less new areas, make more intelligent use of soil, and must altogether make better use of soil as a resource. We must manage areas already in use in better ways and not create new ones everywhere.

Biodiversity must be a top priority, for us – and for you. Maintaining biodiversity secures the existence of our farming industry.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As with all pesticides, in the case of glyphosate the rule was and is as before: as little as possible and only as much as is absolutely necessary.

In Germany, as a result of our strict constraints during my tenure the use of glyphosate has declined by one-third. The aim now must be to jointly develop alternatives. The heading on the paper at the exploratory talks read ’arable farming strategy’.

The alternative may involve chemical, mechanical or electronic means. Research and development departments are working at full speed and the next federal government will invest lot of money. That I promise you.

We must focus on sustainable, resource-efficient and effective farming methods. And, Ladies and Gentlemen, we must achieve this together.

However, there is one thing I must add:

To the farmers, those representing the processing industry, dairies, retailers, and the dairy industry as a whole: ever since the last ’milk crisis’ your structures have undergone very little change.

You know that. You are responsible for pricing, and for ensuring that everyone involved can make a good living from dairy production. We have kept all our promises, we have supported the dairy producers financially, the framework for a restructuring of the dairy market is there, now it is your turn.

Phil Hogan,

It is nice of you to be here again. Thank you for your unflinching, reliable support in Brussels.

We are all agreed: Brexit notwithstanding, in the future we will continue to require a common agricultural policy, one that is secure and expertly shaped and planned.

Subsidisation beyond 2020 must be organised in a simpler and more targeted manner. We want less bureaucracy and greater efficiency to ensure a competitive farming industry.

I want farmers who are active and devoted to their local region to become the focus of European agricultural policy.

To the farmers,

I remain supportive of the Commission’s view to in principle continue direct payments in order to stabilise income. Of course I want to safeguard your livelihoods in Germany. Of course you need the money.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Many of you are wearing a farming product from Bulgaria without possibly knowing it. You are wearing a perfume made with rose oil, which in all probability comes from one of the most fascinating parts of the world, Rose Valley – in the heart of Bulgaria. That is where 70 per cent of globally traded rose oil comes from. This is farming production at its most intense: FOUR tonnes of rose petals for ONE litre of oil!

To my colleague Mr. Porodzanov,

I too extend a warm welcome to you and your fellow citizens here in Berlin. I look forward to working together during your presidency of the EU Council of Ministers. I know you to be of similar opinions where streamlining the common agricultural policy is concerned.

Together we must continue the European project, for only by working together can we be at the forefront of economic and ecological progress.

There is one favour I might ask of you: Bulgaria’s slogan here at the Green Week is ’Flavour of the Sun’. Sunshine is definitely something we could do with here in the dark winter of Berlin.

Please leave enough of it here.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The international dimension of the Green Week is greater than it has ever been. I am delighted that Russia is represented again. Make use of the opportunity this platform offers for dialogue and discussion, for listening and getting to know one another. This afternoon I held a meeting with the agriculture ministers of the federal States, and on Saturday there will be a veritable summit here: over 70 ministers of agriculture will come together for the 10th Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA) in Berlin.

The main topic this year will be livestock farming in the future. I will be consulting with agriculture ministers from around the world, representatives of the EU and numerous international organisations. Animal welfare should know no bounds, especially in a globalised world.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

You have probably already heard: the challenge presently facing us is African swine fever, for which there is currently no vaccine or treatment.

Even though there is no danger to humans it poses a huge threat to our pig farming industry.

For months we have been making every effort to keep the risk of an outbreak in Germany as low as possible:

Wild boar are the main carriers of the fever, from place to place and potentially across borders. Humans too can be carriers. Ever since last summer we have been running a widespread information campaign: the aim of our posters and handouts is to inform truck drivers and travellers.

Wild boar must not be given the chance to eat carelessly discarded sausage and meat products which may conceivably contain the virus.

In my second role as transport minister I have for this reason made sure that motorway service stations pay attention to their waste disposal and fencing.

Since last autumn we have also been making an effort to reduce boar numbers in the wild. I wish to thank the huntsmen in this country who for their part are sharing the responsibility of reducing the risk of an outbreak of African swine fever in Germany.

As early as September, immediately after the initial outbreak in the Czech Republic, I travelled to Prague to exchange experiences and jointly confront the task of combating the disease. My thanks go to our Czech colleagues for their outstanding efforts.

This is an area where Europe works really well and we are all doing our best to prevent an outbreak of this livestock disease.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Farming is not for fun, instead for ensuring food supplies.

It helps to maintain our cultural landscape.

Agriculture is at the heart of our society.

I am delighted that here at the International Green Week we all have the time and opportunity to take in the latest developments, enjoy the tastiest foods, meet the nicest people and admire wonderful animals straight from the farm.

I wish you all a good time over the coming days and hereby declare the International Green Week 2018 open.