How does Corona impact farms & agriculture in Germany?
Linda Kelly is Ceres Award winner and the owner of Biolandhof Kelly, a farm business in the South of Germany. With her, we discussed the impacts of Corona on the agriculture sector and how – in her opinion – farming has to change in order to be more sustainable for our planet.
Photo by: Timo Jaworr/agrarheute
Linda, how do you as a farmer deal with the current Corona crisis?
“Fortunately, we have not been as badly affected so far as seasonal farms, which for example depend on harvest workers from abroad for their strawberry or asparagus harvest that takes place right now. The crisis could clearly be felt here. Since we also sell products in addition to pure crop farming, we could only feel that listing discussions with traders were postponed or got cancelled. This means of course that we have to wait for new deals, although we really wanted to grow bigger with our lupine products this summer.
For me, every crisis though is always a big opportunity, you can take a break and concentrate on the essentials. That's what I would also really like to see to happen in agriculture."
What are the conditions – also apart from Corona - that make farm work most difficult?
"Definitely the most difficult thing is the lack of value for our work and our products. Food is one of the most important things we have, and in return it does not get the importance it deserves. This is partly due to a few consumers, although there are also many great people out there who attach great importance to regional cultivation and healthy food and are also happy to pay for it. I do, however, see politics as being very much in a position to act. There are an incredible number of requirements, and these must be met by smaller farms just as much as by the large ones. And if something goes wrong with the big ones, it has an immediate negative impact on the entire sector. We now receive subsidies of course which could be seen as a good thing, but in my opinion, farmers should be allowed to set our own prices. Just as the consumer is prepared to pay for it. In the energy sector, for example, we earn an incredible amount of money, which is what I would like to see for our food as well.
Running and maintaining large farms is incredibly expensive and must be worthwhile - not only for us operators, but also for the planet and sustainable cultivation. In this area, however, I see Corona as a great opportunity because many people have again seen how important regional cultivation and short transport routes are to them.”
How do you see the future of agriculture? How can a farm position itself in such a way that a sustainable future is possible?
“From the very beginning, we have done it this way: we have positioned ourselves as broadly as possible and have several products or pillars (without getting too unfocussed). We have several specialists on the farm, each with their own responsibilities for their own area. But support from outside is also necessary, from politicians and consumers. More sustainability is needed across the board, and we must manage our land properly so that it remains healthy. Such investments must be refinanced, and there it all comes down to the actual crop prices again.”
This interview was conducted by Katharina Wagner, Managing Director & Communications Specialist at SPOONFUL Food + Beverage Marketing.