“People are taking an interest in each other again”

DMK farmer Thomas Andresen spells out the problems – and the opportunities for the industry.

What kind of challenges are farmers facing this year?

Alongside problems arising from tougher fertilizer regulations and the freak weather conditions of the last few years, the pandemic will shape 2021, alongside rising costs in all sectors of the economy. So farms are going to be up against increasing economic pressure, as well as political pressure.

How are you dealing with the EU’s new requirements?

As our farm is not located in the red zone, the restrictions are limited, but we will have to produce more paperwork. And we’ll have to wait and see what the EU has in store for us with Farm-to-Fork and GreenDeal.

What are you hoping for this year?

Like most people, I hope we’ll be able to put the pandemic behind us as soon as possible. In terms of the farm, I hope DMK will be able to generate a suitable milk price that’s sufficient, and pass it on to suppliers.

How would agriculture be ideally – to satisfy consumers, dairies, food retailers and farmers alike?

Consumers and farmers are already coming closer together – people are taking an interest in each other again. Now, if we can manage to make it clear to the food retail sector that it’s responsible not only for low consumer prices but also regional agriculture – and if dairy cooperatives realize their main priority needs to be paying members and suppliers a milk price that allows them to develop prospects, then that would be a big achievement.

What are the most urgent tasks for farmers to focus on this year?

Survival! This year, many milk producers are struggling to survive.

What’s changing in your daily work on the farm, in terms of politics, consumers, regulations…?

We’re used to adapting to new circumstances as agriculture is in a constant state of change, but right now, the pressure on the industry is really hard to handle. The combination of new and rising costs combined with low revenues is pushing the industry to the limits. At a time like this, it’s a good feeling that most consumers support the nation’s farmers. That’s something we realized during the farmers’ protests in 2019.

The voice – farmer Thomas Andresen speaks up for farmers’ needs as he grapples with the industry’s challenges on his farm in Schleswig-Holstein.

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