The cereals are doing badly

the cereals are doing badly

"When I saw what had happened, I didn't know how to react at first." Eberhard schnaz first asked his father, who has several years more experience in agriculture than the 39-year-old. "But even he had never experienced anything like it." In february, a farmer from iffigheim lost around one-third of his winter cereals to frost – and almost all farmers in lower franconia suffered the same fate. Schnaz was faced with the decision to plow up the crop and replant the fields or hope that the crop will recover some time. "I have tried both." One way or another, farmers are suffering from yield losses due to the snow-free cold period. That's why the bavarian ministry of agriculture has now launched an aid program – but not everyone will be able to benefit from it.
"It is difficult to meet the criteria", explains wilfried distler, technical advisor to the bavarian farmers' association (BBV) kitzingen. A subsidized loan is intended to mitigate the additional costs and yield losses. For each hectare turned over and replanted, a lump sum of 1,000 euros is credited, and for each hectare of arable land with at least 30 percent damage, 700 euros. "But you need ten hectares or more to get to the minimum amount of 10,000 euros. Many small companies are not able to do that." Moreover, the approval of the loan is dependent on the granting decision of the office for agriculture.

High administrative costs

However, according to erwin martin, the head of the claims department at the kitzinger amt, this is not a problem. "Of course, we check the damages that someone claims. These are also easy to follow. And then nothing stands in the way of a permit." He justifies the lower limit with the high administrative costs for the relatively low subsidy value per hectare. "If we had to do that for every hectare that was damaged, we couldn't afford it." He admits, however, that the aid has not been used much so far – possibly for this reason as well.
Eberhard schnaz has also not considered applying for the loan: "there are certainly companies that have it more urgent", he says. Five to six hectares of winter barley and wheat had to be turned over and resown – with corn, because other seed was in short supply. For him as a dairy farmer this is not a big problem, because he can eat the corn. But those who depend on cereals – such as arable farmers or pig farmers – sometimes had to accept high seed prices.Schnaz has left a further five hectares standing, but expects these to produce at most half the normal yields.
"The cereals were affected very differently, woman distler. Triticale and rye coped with the frost better than winter wheat and barley. "And even within the individual species there were differences." Most of the farmers were even penalized twice, because the stock, which was particularly well developed, offered more attack surface to the frost. "The poorer stands with less leaf mass have withstood the temperatures better." And when the farmers realized what was going on, there was the seed problem: "the landhandlers were not prepared for this situation." They don't have that much summer cereal in stock, because it's grown far less than the higher-yielding winter cereal. "Each farm now has to cope with additional costs for new seed and inputs, as well as yield losses." Not to mention the additional workauand. Per hectare, the damage amounts to around 500 euros.

No effect on prices

Money that is difficult to make up even for eberhard schnaz. Since the damage is localized, the lower yields will not affect prices, since cereals are traded worldwide. "But there is nothing you can do about it", says the 39-year-old, shrugging his shoulders. The loss must be absorbed by the farmers themselves – if the loan helps, so much the better. At this moment schnaz is only glad that grain is not his main source of income.

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