German farmers rely on subsidies, says young female farmer


By Florence Schulz | | translated by Daniel Eck

June 5, 2019


The number of young people who want to work in agriculture is shrinking. Those who choose farming in Germany have to put up with high acquisition costs, complicated bureaucratic requirements and a modest income. EURACTIV Germany reports.


The agricultural sector is failing to adapt to the new generation. Many young people are deterred by a job description that promises long, hard working hours, constant change and no fixed income.


Only 11% of all farmers in the EU are under the age of 40, according to Eurostat’s statistics for 2016.


Johanna Buntz is one of the young Germans who dared to become a farmer.


It was not easy to take over her parents’ 110-hectare pig farm in the Swabian Jura where she grew up. However, over the last 20 years, the business has become increasingly unprofitable and production needed to be further expanded, simply to maintain an income.


The butcher’s shop to which they delivered their meat stopped purchasing it because it was too expensive compared to the price of the competition.


Since her three sisters took other career paths, Buntz decided to take over her parents’ business after graduating from high school.


In an interview on the sidelines of an agricultural conference in Berlin on Tuesday (4 June), Buntz told EURACTIV that her parents had never pressured her.


Buntz studied agricultural marketing and management to learn how to ensure her products are more valuable. While she was still studying, she decided to give up on pig farming and transitioned to organic farming.


The young farmer attached particular importance to sustainability and species-appropriate livestock breeding. Buntz also made this transition because “hens are easier for women to handle than pigs, who weigh 120 kilos”.


Currently, she manages the farm with her mother but in a few years Buntz will take over completely. This situation is exceptional given that just under 10% of all German farms are run by women and 64% of the total agricultural workforce are men, according to the German Ministry of Agriculture.


Buntz says she has not experienced any disadvantages or discrimination as a woman. Only once did a man stop and take a picture of her driving a tractor.


Taking over farms is expensive ...


An abundance of guidelines and dependence on subsidies ...