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2020-10-14

Interview with Georg Mayerhofer Farmer in Ortenburg/Bavaria

Some of your farm is run on a circular economy. What role can agriculture play in the future to intensify the cycle of resources from the cities back to the countryside?

There are different types of cycles. For me as a farmer, cycles are becoming increasingly important, and I have to recognize that we have neglected cycles in our industry for quite some time. International raw materials trade is right and important, especially for an industrialized nation like Germany. Nevertheless, it is associated with major disadvantages. It is about achieving more fairness in the comparison domestic - foreign of agricultural products and of course it is also about negative environmental impacts when agricultural goods are exported or imported. This means that there are great opportunities in regional cycles. For example, internal nutrient cycles, feed cycles and even regional energy cycles are conceivable. And, of course, a cycle between town and country is also conceivable. Therefore I see good chances to intensify these connections to the people in the city, to explain agriculture and to show where our food comes from and how it is produced.

How do you see new technologies like vertical farming? In your opinion, are they models that would be worthwhile for your farm as a supplement to traditional farming?

In my opinion, many things are conceivable for the future. Of course, new models will emerge alongside traditional agricultural production, as we become more and more aware of the importance of healthy food. Vertical farming describes a kind of greenhouse culture in or on buildings, we also speak of "urban agriculture". This is where new markets are emerging and also opportunities for start-ups and young investors. I can only support something like this and this new type of production can very well complement or enhance the classic product range of agriculture. Hopefully, we will not replace extensive agriculture for a long time yet, otherwise many agricultural enterprises will lose their right to exist. And of course there is always the great danger that large corporations will take on food production and that we as a society will then lose pluralism in production and become dependent. It is extremely important to me that the value-added chains of food production remain diverse and heterogeneous and that many people who work in them are able to earn a living.

Young farmers are sometimes uncertain about how the future of agriculture will develop. What recommendations do you have, with whom, how and what priorities need to be worked out in order to make a decision?

Yes, agriculture is currently going through difficult times. On the one hand, the younger generation is still suffering from the well-trodden paths of the previous generation, which we should not blame because the circumstances have developed in this way. On the other hand, it is difficult to get back on one's feet, both existentially and socially, in times of globalization and social demands. Nevertheless, I believe we should not lose courage to take new, sustainable approaches to agriculture. We should promote regional production and demand "added value" for our sustainable and regional food products. And to do this, it is also important to communicate, to take society with us and to build bridges.