Planned cuts in the federal budget to support rural areas are encountering resistance from federal and state agriculture ministers. At the end of their autumn conference on Friday in Kiel, they made a clear appeal to federal politicians not to make any cuts in funding for the joint task of “improving agricultural structure and coastal protection” (GAK).

“We agreed that the budgeted funds should not be cut in principle,” said Schleswig-Holstein Agriculture Minister Werner Schwarz (CDU), who chaired the conference.

The GAK is the most important instrument for promoting agriculture and rural areas, emphasized Schwarz. “We have a real concern here.” Federal Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir (Greens) spoke of painful cuts. But he is still counting on changes to the budget discussions.

In the draft federal budget for 2024, 840 million euros are earmarked for the GAK – after 1.1 billion euros in 2023.

The wolf problem

The agriculture ministers also addressed the question of how to deal with the growing wolf population in the country. There is now immense potential for conflict, said Özdemir. The farmers rightly expected concrete solutions in addition to nice-sounding words of solidarity. In order for safe grazing to still be possible, individual wolves must be able to be shot, said Özdemir. “It must also be possible to remove entire packs where necessary.” To do this, the foundations would have to be created quickly.

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania’s Agriculture Minister Till Backhaus (SPD) said: “We need a nationwide regulation under the umbrella of the Federal Nature Conservation Act for the legally secure removal of conspicuous wolves.” His Bavarian colleague Michaela Kaniber (CSU) went further with her demand. “We expect the possibility of removal regardless of damage.” She cited Sweden as a role model. Here you have expectations of the Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke (Greens).

Divided opinion on glyphosate

Disagreement became clear when assessing the possible further use of the total herbicide glyphosate, which is being discussed in the EU. Backhaus was open-minded, Özdemir referred to the coalition agreement and unresolved questions about negative effects on biodiversity. “We are for no.”

Wind money for fishing

However, the federal and state ministers agreed on the goal of further improving animal welfare and supporting fishing. It was a huge success that we managed to raise 670 million euros for fishing from the auction of offshore wind capacity, said Backhaus.

Demonstrations accompany the meeting

The conference was accompanied by protests. Many farmers came to Kiel to demonstrate, some with their tractors, to underline their demand for more support. Environmental protection organizations primarily called for more commitment to animal welfare.

Conference of Ministers of Agriculture