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Up to 40 percent less

Future of farmers questionable: livestock numbers expected to decline sharply

The future of farms in the region is on the line. Livestock numbers are likely to decrease by 30 to 40 percent in the next few years.

Muhldorf – There is great uncertainty in local agriculture about the future of farms. In countless conversations with farmers, whether in the field or on the phone, farmers are looking massively for information on how they should and can continue to run their businesses, notes VVG Managing Director Sebastin Brandmaier. He expects livestock numbers to decrease by 30 to 40 percent in the region over the next few years. The number of cattle and dairy cows is decreasing in Bavaria and also in the district of Muhldorf.

The data, which has now been released, comes from 1. November 2021, from the so-called HIT database, a central database to which all livestock farmers must report their animals. According to the report, the number of cattle in Bavaria has decreased by 1.7 percent compared to the previous year, the number of farms even by 2.5 percent. In Bavaria, 1.1 million dairy cows are kept on 26,345 farms.

Number of cows down by 34 percent

Not all cattle are the same as dairy cows. There are also farms in Bavaria and in the district of Muhldorf that keep cattle exclusively for meat production, such as suckler cows, where the cows are not milked, but the calves drink from the udder and are later slaughtered as young animals. Or specialized farms with fattening calves or fattening bulls. In 1994, there were still 115,559 cattle and 38,689 cows in the district of Muhldorf. In 2021, these numbers dropped to 52,520 cattle and 28,890 cows.

Cow husbandry in the districts of Altotting and Muhldorf declined continuously from 1994 to 2021. As the Office for Food, Agriculture and Forestry in Toging announced on request, ,the number of cows in the service area has decreased by 34 percent.

On the other hand, farms in Bavaria are getting bigger and bigger: on average, there are 43 cows in a Bavarian dairy barn today, one cow more than in 2020. For comparison: In Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, there are on average 246 dairy cows in a barn.

Price for beef at a high level

Nor can it be due to beef prices at present. "Prices for young bulls, slaughter cows and heifers have recovered significantly in 2021 and are currently at a high level," says Natascha Henze, Animal Husbandry and Animal Health Officer at the Bavarian Farmers’ Association (BBV). Even in the first days of 2022, there are no signs of an end to the price high, writes the Association of Producer Groups (VEZG) in its market report.

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That dairy farmers are closing their barns is a long-standing trend and not surprising. There are many reasons for this, according to the Association of Bavarian Milk Producers: the strict requirements of the Fertilizer Ordinance, the discussion about tethering, more and more regulations from legislators, dairies and food retailers. Farmers are also concerned about what they perceive to be a decline in the value of their products.

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"What is new, however, and this is very thought-provoking, is that even here in Bavaria, good farms with 80 cows that are actually fit for the future are getting out of the business. We didn’t expect it like this," says Hans-Jurgen Seufferlein of the Milk Producers’ Association.

Even for Muhldorf’s BBV district chairman Ulrich Niederscheiberer, the end of the line for cattle farmers has not yet been reached. "We don’t want to be courted, but the general conditions have to be right for the farmers. The milk producers have already formulated that. We are now losing potential farm successors who no longer want to operate their farms under these conditions," Ulrich NIederschweiberer points out.

Nevertheless, there is still milk in abundance in Bavaria. In Germany, the degree of self-sufficiency in milk is about 113 percent, and in Bavaria it is over 170 percent. That’s why they export, mainly to Italy, but also to many other European countries and even as far as China.

However, the volume of milk in Bavaria has been declining slightly for two years now. How the increased consumer trend towards plant-based drinks will affect milk consumption, and therefore milk production, is yet to be seen.

"In general, there is boundless uncertainty in agriculture about what future demands will be placed on livestock or. are demanded. Everyone feels called to make demands on the farmers here. Many farmers are currently considering giving up livestock farming," says VVG Managing Director Sebastian Brandmaier.

Brandmaier continues: "Smaller and medium-sized farms with tethers are likely to withdraw from dairy farming with a probability of up to 80%, or. pushed out! VVG is shocked to note how often we meet farmers to pick up the last cattle.

In countless conversations with farmers, whether in the field or on the phone, farmers are looking massively for information on how they should and can continue to run their business. The grandiose announcements by some food wholesalers that Bavarian and German livestock farming will be geared to husbandry form 3 or husbandry form 4, and this in just a few years, are causing immense uncertainty among family farms."

High investments for farmers

If farmers have to convert their livestock to the required husbandry systems, investments in the six to seven-digit euro range are involved. A reasonable risk assessment of the investments is hardly possible at present.

Building law obstacles and immission control intensify the problems again, or make them impossible.

"At the counter should and must decide whether we consumers with regional, Bavarian products after animal welfare criteria produced, are ready to honor these also. As a livestock marketing company, we should and must be prepared for our livestock volume to decline by as much as 30 to 40 percent over the next few years. The remark structural break in agriculture is quite applicable here.

It cannot be our goal to shift the food production abroad and to abolish our agriculture. We should learn from Corona," Sebastian Brandmaier concludes.

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