The orchards are in danger of extinction. Researchers at the University of Hohenheim believe that by 2050 these areas of retreat for the old type of fruit, insects, birds and other animals in Baden-Württemberg will disappear. It doesn’t look better in other federal states. Farming them can be exhausting, and many property owners don’t have the time or will to do it. In addition, settlement pressure is increasing. Another major reason is the failures in German agricultural policy. Ironically, the referendum to protect bees triggered an irrational deforestation in Bavaria two years ago. Fearing that their orchards might be placed under nature protection and thus more or less taken into ownership, some farmers used chains and cut down some ancient trees. According to the motto: Where there is nothing, there is nothing to defend.
Traditional orchards fall victim to a deadly mix of ignorance and a lack of appreciation for sustainable agriculture that has proven itself over the centuries. Their decline is exemplary of the failure of an agricultural policy that was set by the CDU and CSU for more than 15 years. During this time, the association systematically delayed or prevented significant reforms, whether related to climate, water, animal or species conservation. It also hurt the peasantry, with more than a third of the farms abandoned during this period – too much economic pressure, little prospect of a better time.
The legacy of the Merkel era means a heavy burden for the red-green-yellow federal government of the future, which must act quickly and decisively now and erase the mistakes of the past. Expectations are high, interest groups are creating pressure from all sides. Animal rights activists are calling on farmers to end factory farming, environmentalists to ban pesticides, climate defenders for CO₂-neutral farming methods and more help, to name a few items on the long list. . It is also clear that not all requirements can be met, especially not from now on.
Deep cuts – even for consumers
The biggest challenge for the future government is to set the right priorities. Where these are located really should be clear to everyone. Since Sunday, the international community in Glasgow, Scotland, has been discussing how to somehow achieve the Paris climate goals. Agriculture and nutrition play a decisive role in this; The sector accounts for a good quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions, especially in animal husbandry. Even Germany could not avoid reducing the number of cattle and pigs kept in stables, the faster the better.
Another important goal is to secure nutrition, not by bringing in everything needed from all parts of the world, but by achieving the highest possible level of self-sufficiency. This, too, can help to decisively improve the climate balance. The whole food system should be more sustainable.
All this means deep cuts not only for farms, but also for consumers who have to get used to the fact that meat and dairy products, for example, become more expensive when their actual costs are finally included. is done.
Where necessary, restrictions are also necessary
It is also clear that the necessary change cannot be achieved with a favorable appeal to the common sense of producers and consumers. In addition to financial incentives for more sustainable management in farms and stables, stricter laws, higher taxes and, where necessary, sanctions are needed. Social justice should not be sidelined, food should be affordable for all – a minefield for the new federal government.
Continuing like the last 15 years is certainly not an option, otherwise the recent clear cut in Bavarian orchards risk. It will be the task of the federal government of the future to develop a vision for sustainable agriculture and define clear goals, as well as provide plan protection to producers. It will demand much from all sides, reforms are full of struggle, difficult and often painful. But they can also be free in the end.
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