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January 17, 2020

Farming industry focuses on dialogue

Politicians promise to commit to a modern farming industry and to negotiate on equal terms – Green Week opens its doors
Rukwied: our focus is on dialogue – Klöckner: in order to move forward agriculture cannot live in the past – Plenkovic: partnership with the Green Week the “ultimate achievement”

On Thursday evening, at the opening ceremony of the 85th International Green Week in Berlin, the dominant aspect of the speeches by politicians and representatives of the food and farming industries was their promise to engage in a dialogue. Speaking in front of around 3,600 guests of honour they emphasised that the farming sector of the future needed to employ modern industrial methods, while taking the demands of sustainable farming and environmental protection into account. 

In his opening address, Chairman of the Federation of German Food and Drink Industries (BVE) Wolfgang Ingold said ”we follow where consumers lead“, and that the industry was making an effort to produce and market foodstuffs responsibly, and that this ”needs to be respected“. ”We are not the problem, we are the solution“, he said.

President of the German Farmers’ Union Joachim Rukwied appealed for sympathy with the farmers who feared for their future. There was a huge increase in both the demands placed on their jobs and the competitive nature of the market. The message of those demonstrating with tractors in many European countries was ”We see an opportunity for a new forward-looking dialogue.“ The farming industry expected policymakers to create a framework that would satisfy the demands of both the environment and the market. Consumers ”who are able to should be willing to pay a higher price if they want foodstuffs that are produced to higher standards“. However, Rukwied said he opposed the EU-Mercosur free trade agreement. ”We cannot accept it in its present form.“

Janusz Wojciechowski, the newly appointed European Commissioner for Agriculture, pledged to support consumer safety and the security of farmers in Brussels. In a reference to the Mercosur agreement he said that the product standards fulfilled by European farmers had to apply to imports as well.

Federal Minister of Agriculture Julia Klöckner said “in order to move forward agriculture cannot live in the past.“ Instead, it had to be “part of a modern world.” There would be conflicts of interest which would need to be fully debated and resolved without talking up a crisis. ”Rural areas are places that do more than satisfy urban desires.“ Before that, Berlin Senator for Justice Dirk Behrendt had criticized ”factory farming and excessive fertiliser use“ and said “the agricultural turnaround has not yet been completed.“

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic of the partner country Croatia said that his country’s partnership with the Green Week was ”the ultimate achievement“ at the world’s largest agricultural exhibition. As Croatia and Germany were each occupying the presidency of the EU Council in 2020, they were also both committed to passing the new joint agricultural policies in accordance with the wishes of the farming sector. European foodstuffs had to set the global standard, he said in his speech, which was held in German. Plenkovic was confident that the partnership would lead to a boost in Croatian food exports. In his opening speech Dr. Christian Göke, CEO of Messe Berlin GmbH, said that last year’s partner country Finland had witnessed a 48 per cent increase in exports. He hoped that this year’s partner country Croatia would achieve similar success and pointed to the Green Week’s outstanding reputation as a market platform.

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