Germany wants to roll back some environmental policies in order to boost domestic crop production as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine threatens global grain and oilseed supplies.
According to the German agricultural ministry, farmers will be allowed to plant crops in ecologically-protected areas. The country also plans to intensify its efforts to boost the domestic competitiveness of legumes rich in protein, such as broad beans and peas. The measures should help meet regional feed demand, cushion the impact of farmers’ surging input costs and ensure self-sufficiency.
“Putin’s war against Ukraine shows us the vulnerable points of our agricultural system,” Agriculture Minister Cem Oezdemir said in Friday’s statement. “Our measures are therefore aimed at providing rapid assistance—and at making agriculture as a whole less vulnerable to crises.”
More than half the European Union’s corn supplies for this season were from Ukraine. Members are scrambling to find grains in other countries as Ukraine’s war is threatening to devastate their crops and exports. Also, farmers have been unable to get to the fields.
Germany’s environmentally protected areas once off-limits for farming were spread over about 1.2 million hectares (3 million acres) as of 2021.
Another initiative announced by the ministry was to streamline bureaucracy and promote renewable energy. It will assist in animal-friendly feed for organic agriculture, as this sector is likely to be the most affected by an increase in imports of Ukrainian feed.
Germany, which is the Group of Seven nation’s president this year, has also been pushing against food protectionism.
—With assistance from Iain Rogers.