Saturday 16 January 2021
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German pig breeders want to stop or restructure the exit premium

More than half of German pig breeders are very interested in leaving pig production in exchange for adequate financial compensation. In addition to subsidies for the modernization and conversion of stables, paid full termination ('exit bonus') could also be an alternative.

A study by the Institute for Agricultural Economics at the University of Kiel shows that German farmers are very interested in a buy-out scheme. Sixty percent of the German pig farmers surveyed can imagine a paid departure from pig farming. In the Netherlands, such an exit bonus ('warm remediation') is already a reality. The University of Kiel has investigated how such a Dutch program is assessed among nearly 500 German pig farmers.

In agricultural circles, people are looking forward to mid-February with fear and trembling and some suspicion, when the so-called Borchert Commission comes with long-awaited proposals for modernizing German agriculture and livestock farming. The tenor of most of the proposals of the former agriculture minister are already known: less pollution, more bio, less fertilizer and chemical aids, and a more animal-friendly farming population.

For the German meat industry, there are a few additional requirements: a ban on cages, mandatory free-range areas, manure and waste separation, ban on unanesthetized castration and slaughter. Initial calculations show that the German pig industry has to depreciate many millions early and build new buildings for billions.

Moreover, the large German meat industry has been under a magnifying glass since the corona outbreak last year because the major German slaughterhouse bosses did too little about the corona infections among their hired employees. Working conditions in the meat processing industry were also again compromised, and new, stricter labor laws were introduced.

Agriculture minister Julia Klöckner will soon be presenting calculations to show that it cannot all be done so quickly and not all at once. She does have a subsidy of one billion euros in reserve, but that will probably mainly go to the dairy and poultry industry.

For one third of German pig farmers it would be important not to leave the industry completely, but to remain active in pig farming in a different way, under keywords such as more animal welfare, fewer animal shelters. One third of those questioned can imagine stopping completely and selling the old stables completely and accepting a building ban. The last third completely rejects any 'warm renovation' funding program.

For the participating farmers, the amount of compensation was the most important factor in their decision. If more money is offered, more German pig farmers show willingness to get out. The main reason German pig farmers could even envision a paid exit is the stricter animal welfare and environmental protection laws.

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