DLG e.V. - Press

Speech by Carl-Albrecht Bartmer President of DLG (German Agricultural Society)

Opening event at EuroTier/EnergyDecentral 2016 Hanover, 14 November 2016

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I am delighted to welcome you to the opening of EuroTier with the World Poultry Show and Energy Decentral 2016! Ladies and Gentlemen, we have been enjoying a series of golden autumn days. But how do they reflect the still precarious situation on the markets for animal products, the hard competition between renewable energy systems on the market, the controversial debate in society about forms of modern animal husbandry and a globally networked sector of the economy that since 9 November has been looking across the Atlantic with a large number of questions waiting for answers? Is the world’s leading industrial and economic power, once the guarantor of free circulation of goods and of competitiveness, now on the way into a new age of protectionism and isolationism?
The warm and cosy days have turned frosty and the world is fiddling with its jacket where the zipper appears to have become stuck. Yes, wintery events are upon us, and to stay with the metaphor we will have to “wrap up warmly”, find our footing on the strategic axes and press ahead vigorously. Agricultural entrepreneurs, livestock and poultry farmers and energy farmers, as well as the whole value chain, prove their worth not in good weather, but most especially when the wind is against them. What is important now is to tap potentials in the markets and on one’s own farm, in one’s own business, by investing in efficiency and acting wisely.
Structural growth will remain on the agenda worldwide, because demand for animal products is increasing dynamically. Dynamically? In order to safeguard the growth rate of the world’s meat consumption from the supply side, it will be necessary to achieve extra production equivalent to Germany’s total meat consumption, again and again every year!
Growth yes, but this is also a matter of optimizing internal workflows. The question around which everything revolves is how to adapt innovative methods optimally to the circumstances at one’s own location and in line with animal needs. And for manufacturers, this means convincing customers with particularly attractive innovations in a difficult competitive environment, in the field of decentralized energy production as well, both at home and on international markets.
And that is precisely why this second week in November in Hanover is an absolute “must” for manufacturers, for forward-looking farmers and investors from all over the world. It is a week of compelling innovations for pig, cattle, sheep, goat, poultry and fish farmers, covering the entire global diversity of our livestock production. More than 280,000 m² of progress, the largest EuroTier of all times, the modern age brought to life, the fascination of all that is new, where what was considered revolutionary yesterday is no longer good enough today.
Over 2,600 exhibitors, 57 per cent of whom come from outside Germany, from 58 different countries – this is not only a new milestone but also a clear message in an age seeking orientation. The international character of EuroTier/Energy Decentral as leading exhibition for modern animal husbandry and energy systems in rural areas that is documented so impressively by these figures proves that progress is not an end in itself. Progress does not halt at national frontiers. Progress develops benefits worldwide. Consequently globalization is not a phenomenon created in elitist circles and which we now have to put up with. Globalization in our thoughts and our activities is the only sensible and fruitful answer to the challenges presented by our planet earth, which will foreseeably be populated by nine to ten billion people.
Globally available modernization and progress are among the reasons why we can today feed over 1.5 billion people more and most of them better than at the turn of the millennium. Even in the most disadvantaged regions of the world, where incomes are lowest, access to a glass of milk and a piece of meat has become easier. As a result children are developing better and people are healthier because their diet is thus more wholesome with essential amino acids and vitamins. 1.5 billion people more and well nourished – isn’t this the performance indicator by which we should be measuring international agriculture and the food industry?
Yes, but despite this we cannot be satisfied by this.
  • Not satisfied, because one out of nine people is still suffering from hunger or malnutrition.
  • Not satisfied because we are reaching this goal in a way that makes excessive use in particular of ecological resources to the detriment of the next generation.
Worldwide, in Europe including Germany, we are not sufficiently sustainable in our consumption of resources, in the strain we put on our natural environment, in the way we breed and keep animals from case to case.
And we can expect that society everywhere, especially in the industrialized nations, will devote more attention to these issues. Why? Because consequences of nutrient loads in rivers, seas, and in the groundwater, medication use, odour emissions and climate impacts are becoming visible. All this raises questions, concerning costs, concerning who is responsible for this. And here we are talking not only – but also – about farmers.
We know that such strains are sometimes the repercussions of overly short-term economic concepts. Given the long-term nature of the challenges facing us, taking sales and profits as the sole standard for further development of our production systems falls short of the mark. This is also perfectly clear to farmers working on the principle of intergenerational responsibility.
At the same time we can observe that - especially in developed societies - the ethical attitude to using animals is shifting. Animal welfare and animal health are topics that are playing an ever larger part in discussion within society. These issues emerged in the world of experience with pets and pursue a fellow-creature justice approach. We should take this up positively, as these are questions that are by no means foreign to us.
We should in fact be bringing our own expertise from daily contact with animals, our knowledge about responsible and therefore also economically successful animal husbandry into the agri-critical debate. One thing that will certainly not help is to sulk in a know-it-all corner, and nor will a long and cut-throat rearguard action in which we lose the defences of what we are used to one by one, and ultimately our ability to act.
Contrary to popular assumptions, vested rights that are derived solely from the protection of legitimate expectations do not hold out in the long term. That is why we will have to face the consequences, not only in Germany, but also in Europe and well beyond. We need an active strategy, “Sustainable agriculture and animal husbandry in 2030”. This begins with a certainly self-critical analysis of the status quo. A realistic assessment of the status quo shows, after all, that some of our processes have exceeded the explainable optimum.
All aspects need to be scrutinized, from the spatial concentration of animal husbandry with corresponding nutrient loads to emissions into the atmosphere, use of medication, breeding goals, animal health and animal welfare.
And then we should set ourselves goals, a strategy aiming at “Sustainable animal husbandry”, with milestones set up to the year 2030 and beyond. Yes, we will continually run up against the conflict of economic feasibility versus what is desirable.
When it comes to what is desirable, we should press for the direct and wherever possible measurable benefit, for the environment as well as for the animals. Simplistic demands, such as those for regionally tightly closed material cycles are just as unhelpful as the idea of animal welfare which is based not on the animal, but instead on humans and their concepts of animal wellbeing. Any number of pigs with prize-winning tails that have thus been subject to tail biting can tell us about this.
The conflict between what is feasible and what is desirable is a dynamic challenge that we have to solve, not ad hoc, but instead along a chain of modernization. In this conflict entrepreneurs will recognize a – by no means inconsiderable – challenge to their management skills and their creativeness. The “human” factor is worldwide the most important key to sustainable animal husbandry which is both animal-friendly and environmentally-responsible.
And our entrepreneurs have powerful tools with which they can design their route towards modernization – new technical solutions, system approaches, including and indeed especially digital approaches.
Ladies and Gentlemen, that is exactly why a EuroTier 2016 and an EnergyDecentral 2016 are such vital building blocks in an Animal Husbandry Strategy 2030. This is where technical answers can be found to the question of how to close the gap between what is desirable and what is feasible via modernization, in animal housing facilities, in the perfect integration of decentralized energy systems. In the past years thousands of developers worldwide have compiled ideas and realized these in technology and management concepts. We are about to award Medals to the best ideas within the framework of our Innovations Competition.
Let them inspire you in the next few days and – equally important – pass this inspiration on in discussions with engineers and with professional colleagues.
Ladies and Gentlemen, can we say that a sector of the economy can develop its own sustainable path to the future and all is well? No, of course we can’t. The present debate calls first of all for substantive answers, but we must also talk about this, audibly, on an equal footing with society. Transparency in animal housing facilities, windows, webcams – naturally this is possible. Structurally attractive and tidy farmyards, animal housing facilities that are self-explanatory even for laypersons, ongoing education and training systems for farm managers and staff, real-life messages such as “Best livestock farmer in the world”.
Many farmers possess untapped potential here, farmers who are personally still the most trustworthy ambassadors for communicating their activities to society.
Together with a professional sector-wide approach in order to reach in particular the opinion-forming urban milieus, we will create acceptance in society, our “licence to operate”. We should invest in this, with modern technologies and at the same time by explaining the benefit for society of a “sustainable animal husbandry” form created in this way. This is the most important message being transmitted by EuroTier 2016, a message that you, dear exhibitors, professional farmers from near and far, deliver so impressively.
I would like to express my thanks to our established expert partners, quite particularly to our
  • EuroTier Project Team, headed by Dr. Karl Schlösser and
  • EnergyDecentral Project Team headed by Marcus Vagt.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the golden autumn has come to a close. The leaves are falling. This week, the future is being made in Hanover with EuroTier and EnergyDecentral – accordingly the trees are already greening again. In this spirit I hereby declare EuroTier and EnergyDecentral 2016 open and wish you successful days at the fair.


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Friedrich W. Rach

Press Officer Agriculture and Exhibitions

Malene Conlong

International media and communications manager