The German Farmers Association* is complaining about billion-dollar losses due to EU sanctions against Russia. But Federal Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt characterizes the sanctions as merely “annoying” – and expects 2016 to be a poor year.
Considering the poor economic situation of many farmers, the German Farmers Associations (DBV) is demanding an end to the Russian sanctions on products from the EU. “Efforts to overcome the current embargo have to be intensified!” stated DBV president Joachim Rukwied in an interview with the newspaper Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung. Many German farmers find themselves in dire straits because of Russia’s boycott on products from Europe.
The current embargo towards food products from EU member states accounts for an annual loss of approximately 1 billion euros per annum for German farmers, added Rukwied. The ban on imports is a major reason for declining prices for meat, milk, and grain products.
In the framework of the Ukraine crisis, EU first started sanctions against Russia in 2014. As a counter measure, Moscow replied with a ban on food imports from EU member states. According to Tagesspiegel, for the first time since 1993, Russia didn’t participate in Berlin’s International Green Week. Russia has been a large exhibitor at this important international trade fair since 2006.
The president of the German Farmers Association also criticized the introduction of a minimum wage for farm hands, at a level of 8 euros per hour. Labor intensive farms will go bankrupt, Mr. Rukwied argued. “Strawberries from Germany will be a phase-out model in the near future”.
Federal Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt from Germany’s Christian Social Democrats party (CSU) expects another tough year for German farmers. “The general outlook remains critical” Mr. Schmidt told the newspaper Passauer Neue Presse last Monday. The main reasons are uncertainties in key markets.
“We have no idea about the future economic situation in China, or the degree of instability in Arabian countries and in Africa, and this has of course had an impact on the income situation of many farmers. Having said this I am quite concerned about the prospects for the year to come.”
According to Schmidt, the Russian ban on imports is “annoying”. But sanctions aren’t the “major factor” for low producer prices in Germany.
*The German Farmers Association – DBV / Deutscher Bauernverband – is Germany’s major representative for farmers, their families, and rural areas of the country. With its long tradition, the Farmers Association today represents more than 90% of a total of 300,000 farms in Germany.
The Association is quite influential in German politics and plays a role in the general political discussions. The Farmers Association has two offices and representations in Berlin and Brussels which work as central points of contact between political parties, associations and public organizations. The Germany Famers Association is a member of the European Farmers Association (COPA) and is also a member in the World Farmers Association (WFO).