Skip to main content

Learning and benefiting from each other

The Aspen Institute Germany and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in the USA have launched a transatlantic exchange in agriculture. The aim is for farmers on both sides of the Atlantic to enter into a dialogue about agriculture and rural regions in order to find common ground for a more sustainable agricultural future.

Now one or the other insider of German and American agriculture will ask what common ground there can be in this area about which an exchange is to take place.

Even if it does not always seem so obvious at first glance, agriculture plays a central role in the economy, society and the environment on both sides of the Atlantic. The issues on both sides are resource conservation, dealing with climate change, shaping rural development and promoting social and political unity in society.

Managing the challenges

For one thing is certain: Germany and the USA are important agricultural importers and exporters that should and must seek common ground for a more sustainable agricultural future. To date, there have been and continue to be conflicts and misunderstandings that have repeatedly put a joint transatlantic partnership to the test, so that common challenges have rarely been considered. To address this from the perspective of the producers of agricultural goods, i.e. the farmers, the joint exchange is taking place.

For this purpose, 16 representatives from agriculture in the Midwest of the USA, Saxony-Anhalt and Brandenburg, as well as from associations, extension services, industry and universities, have come together to discuss commonalities. The result will then be used to jointly develop recommendations for overcoming the common challenges on both sides of the Atlantic.

Agricultural subsidy policy

In order to give all participants a picture of the respective political framework conditions of the two countries, information about German and American agricultural subsidy policies was provided in two meetings. First, the German representatives learned about the American subsidy policy, called the "Farm Bill". Dr. Jonathan Coppess from the University of Illinois explained in detail how government support in the agricultural, but also in the social sector is structured to cover interests from an agricultural, social and societal point of view.

A large part of the subsidies is used to support low-income families in order to give them access to healthy food. Furthermore, the focus of the subsidies is on protecting agricultural production through state crop insurance. But environmental protection and nature conservation are also components. For this purpose, measures are implemented to reduce the discharge of substances from agriculture into the environment.

In a following session, Prof. Stephan von Cramon-Taubadel, from the University of Göttingen gave the American representatives an idea of European subsidy policy.

One conclusion of the exchange so far is that even though our production conditions and approaches may be different, there are similarities that unite us on both sides of the Atlantic. These include social, economic and ecological aspects, but also training aspects, in which many similarities and challenges can be found.     

Florian Schiller
DLG Competence Center Agriculture