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Dairy Industry

“We don’t have enough security to plan”

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09.12.2020
At DMK, “WE” are the farmers and employees – who face additional challenges this year, amid the pandemic. Dairy farmers from DMK tell us how they are managing

Jochen Wenzel

Oehnaland Agricultural Society, Niedergörsdorf, Brandenburg

“After two dry years, we managed to put aside some feed reserves in 2020. One thing we’re worrying about now is the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic. Health regulations and social distancing are making it much more difficult to train people. One positive thing – I appreciated the dairy’s clear statements and guidelines in terms of hygiene measures for milk collection. I think the DMK Group’s development and restructuring was presented well in the virtual Representatives’ meeting – it seemed logical and transparent. A very big thank you for that!

 

I think this is the right path for the long term. What I’m not happy about is the way the milk price has developed – we’ve only had short periods over the past few years where the basic price has been enough. The fixed price scheme helps us in planning around the milk price, but it also shows us the limits of the milk price early on. What I expect from politicians are reliable statements about keeping livestock, and animal welfare. Consumers need to be made aware that they can come and assess food production standards locally, and ask questions. Hiding production and the idea of “out of sight, out of mind” breaks the value chain in Germany and doesn’t help us achieve global climate targets.”

 

„I think the DMK Group’s development and restructuring was presented well in the virtual Representatives’ meeting – it seemed logical and transparent. A very big thank you for that! I think this is the right path for the long term.“

Jochen Wenzel, Oehnaland Agricultural Society, Niedergörsdorf, Brandenburg

Stefan Jacobsen

Handewitt, Schleswig-Holstein

“There’s no use in putting a lot into operations and doing well in terms of costs if you lose out on your revenues due to the lower milk price. At my dairy, I want us to return to the upper third compared to the average that German dairies are paying as soon as possible. On the farms, we need more milk money so we can meet all the demands we face in the future.”

„On the farms, we need more milk money so we can meet all the demands we face in the future.“

Stefan Jacobsen, Handewitt, Schleswig-Holstein

Dieter Beuckmann

Manager, Welver – Soest district, North Rhine Westphalia

“These days, it’s often love for the cows that spurs us on, rather than the financial and economic aspect of milk production. If milk producers weren’t prepared to put up with so much struggle, many more farms would have already shut down. It’s just the lack of ability to plan. We need to invest a lot of money to meet environmental standards and provide suitable care for animals but it’s expensive. We’ve repeatedly been promised a better milk price but we’ve been waiting in vain for that for years. That’s led to a loss of trust.”

„It’s just the lack of ability to plan. We need to invest a lot of money to meet environmental standards and provide suitable care for animals but it’s expensive."

Dieter Beuckmann, Manager, Welver – Soest district, North Rhine Westphalia

Carsten Wist

Klaus and Carsten Wist, Wischhafen / Elbe-Weser

“We dairy farmers need to be able to pay our workers a suitable hourly wage! We can’t though, given the current market situation. The milk price is stuck around the level it was 40 years ago while costs are rising throughout the company. And the future doesn’t look very bright. That’s what makes this crisis different from in the past. For farmers, it’s no longer enough to be “average.” As a company, your goal has to be among the top 25 percent of payers.”

„For farmers, it’s no longer enough to be “average.” As a company, your goal has to be among the top 25 percent of payers.“

Carsten Wist, Klaus and Carsten Wist, Wischhafen / Elbe-Weser

Steffen Kiesekam

Bramsche-Epe, Weser-Ems

“The droughts of 2018 and 2019 meant higher procurement costs for basic and supplementary feed. Further troubles are that the milk price is stagnating while production costs are rising significantly. Raising productivity can only help so much to balance out higher production costs. To cover these, we urgently need a higher milk price. Exchanges with the broader populace are also upsetting. Consumers really don’t have a sense of the work we farmers do.”

„The droughts of 2018 and 2019 meant higher procurement costs for basic and supplementary feed. Further troubles are that the milk price is stagnating while production costs are rising significantly."

Steffen Kiesekamp, Bramsche-Epe, Weser-Ems

Karin Heinichen

Steigra agricultural company, Saxony-Anhalt

“Basically, we support the cooperative model and we see an opportunity for DMK with the new fixed price model, as it helps make the company more attractive, compared to rivals. Nonetheless, we face some major challenges. In our area, we have serious problems with rodents in our grassland and alfalfa. We’re also struggling with below average yields of cereals and poor quality fodder. We need a milk price of at least 35 cents in order to run our business economically.”

„Basically, we support the cooperative model and we see an opportunity for DMK with the new fixed price model, as it helps make the company more attractive, compared to rivals."

Karin Heinichen, Steigra agricultural company, Saxony-Anhalt

Impressions from the regional managers

Clemens Niederwestberg
Weser-Ems

”There’s a lot of competitive pressure in my region. The farmers want to see DMK’s investments make it competitive in the long term.”

Helmut Enewaldsen
Schleswig-Holstein

”There’s an increasing amount of talk about planned expenditure on farms. Additional cost pressure due to political requirements, environmental measures and the growing amount of bureaucracy are the main reasons people are leaving dairy farming.”

Detlev Bosse
Elbe-Weser

”Years of drought, rodent damage, slurry regulation, investments in manure and silo storage facilities and the level of the milk price all add up to a tough environment for farmers right now.”

Jens Ruge
Mecklenburg Western Pommerania/Brandenburg

”Greater rainfall this year means the feed situation has improved. New suppliers have been taken on in the area. People welcome the introduction of the fixed price model.”

Julia Ridder
North Rhine-Westphalia/ South Lower Saxony

”On many farms, the liquidity situation is incredibly tense. Lack of feed and bought-in feed, lease prices, manpower costs, more and more regulation and political and social pressures are all taking their toll on farmers.”

Kerstin Grabarse
Thuringia/SaxonyAnhalt /Saxony /Hesse

”Farms are no longer prepared to support milk production with crop production, and that’s leading to the closure of some dairy farms. Many operations have made investments but struggle servicing their debts.”

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