Farmer Focus: Lorenz von Schintling-Horny - Farmers Weekly

Subscribe and save

Farmers Weekly from £129
Saving £36
In print AND tablet

SUBSCRIBE NOW

sub_ad_img

Farmer Focus: Lorenz von Schintling-Horny

SNOW ON the fields has prevented any chance of applying fertiliser to oilseed rape. Instead the workforce went on holidays after finishing building the new grain store, while I filled in a few forms, went to farmer meetings, sold a few machines (a tractor, a drill and a cultivator) and prepared a fertiliser and pesticide plan for the coming season.

Our local mill rented the new grain store for a decent price and is storing approximately 3300t of wheat, which it bought from neighbouring farms.

The mill aims to become more and more independent from grain merchants and wants to trade directly with farmers throughout the year. Their customers/clients (Nestl; Bahlsen; Unilever) want clear traceability of the flour. If there is any defect in their products due to pollutants in the flour, such as cadmium, atrazine or dioxins, tracing back to a certain farm can reduce costs immensely.

In effect our mill wants us to certify our farms with a quality assurance scheme, such as EUREPGAP or QS, and enter into a sustainable long-term partnership. But according to the mill”s managing director finding enough certified farmers who are prepared to engage in a long term partnership is proving difficult. I find that remarkable in 21st century Germany.

On one hand we farmers find it natural to co-operate with the processing industry in sugar beet, potato, fruit and vegetable production, but on the other hand there is a great scepticism to do the same with cereals. As our wheat surpluses grow in the EU25 and export markets erode, in my opinion the future of profitable cereal production will only be achieved by co-operation with a mill or merchant to serve home markets.

schintling-horny@t-online.de

Farmer Focus: Lorenz von Schintling-Horny

DESPITE HIGH wheat and sugar yields this year, few arable farmers are smiling. Prices are just too low at 95/t (66/t) for wheat. Yet prices for other raw materials such as steel and energy have never been higher, despite a low dollar. When will we see the promised turnaround in our commodity prices?

As energy prices increase, the production of renewable energies has found new momentum. Now, it seems every modern farmer must think of investing in biodiesel, bioethanol or windmills in Germany. It is amazing what kind of risks farmers are prepared to take as long as subsidies for these new technologies are given freely.

For some farmers biodiesel production is a profitable way to diversify on the farm as well as providing plenty of work 365 days a year. But if you have to pay a worker for holidays and overtime on a 40 hour week basis then there is little money to be made at current prices. So I keep myself informed but remain very reluctant to invest.

In the next few days I expect the cheque from Brussels, which will be the last one in its present form, where the premiums are coupled to production. Next year’s payment will solely be paid for land ownership.

For tenant farmers it works like an entry fee to farm. While in the Ukraine you can produce a whole crop of wheat for 300/ha (210/ha), here in Germany you have to pay this fee/rent of approx 200-300/ha (even on bad land) to be allowed to start cropping. This can neither be efficient nor competitive.

Let’s hope that energy prices in Europe climb quick enough, so we don’t need subsidies in the future. At least energy is something we desperately need in Europe. And surely in 20 years time it will be as easy to run a biodiesel production unit as it is to drive a combine today.

blog comments powered by Disqus