“The drought has hit German farmers quite hard, especially in the Eastern parts. German livestock holders suffer from a lack of basic fodder. However, German companies compensate the local loss with mostly other European imports within a very short period of time.”
Dr. Hermann-Josef Baaken
German Feed Association (DVT)
Interview by: Cemalettin Kanaş
Germany is among the top ten countries in the world and one of the leading countries in EU in terms of compound feed production. In December German Feed Association (DVT) celebrated its centennial. On this wise, I wanted to make an interview with Dr. Hermann-Josef Baaken, the Managing Director of DVT. Fortunately, Dr. Hermann-Josef Baaken accepted my request and we made a sincere talk.
Dr. Baaken briefly introduced DVT, the ‘mouthpiece’ for the majority of the feed-producing companies in Germany, and explained the general state of the German feed industry for you readers. He is uncomfortable with the misinformation about the agricultural issues. “Agriculture in general is highly emotionally discussed, especially in Germany. Public discussions are often mislead by misinformation, misconception and fear. German feed-producing companies – as part of the value chain – are therefore inevitable involved and thereby undergo a critical evaluation by the public and policy makers,” he said.
Dr. Baaken also expressed that DVT appreciates the open access to the world market and its pool of resources which made it easier for Germany to compensate the loss resulting from the drought of this year.
Below is the interview with Dr. Hermann-Josef Baaken:
As far as I know, Germany is one of the top ten countries in the world and one of the leading countries in the EU in terms of total compound feed production. Can you give general information about the German feed sector?
In 2017 German feed companies produced around 24 million tons of compound feed. (In 2017) Germany produced around 6.8 million tons of compound feed dedicated to cattle, 9.6 million tons for pigs, and around 6.4 million tons for poultry.
With the mentioned amount Germany is currently number one of the compound feed-producing countries in the European Union which equals a share of 15 percent of the total EU-28 production (for compound feed) or approximately 2 percent of the world production.
The DVT (German Feed Association) is currently home to more than 280 companies within the feed value chain.
How many feed mills are there in Germany? Are their numbers decreasing also in your country within the context of the consolidation in the industry? What do you expect in the near future and long term with this regard?
Currently there are 309 feed mills in Germany, with steadily decreasing trend. Due to expected consolidation of the industry, we expect a further decline in the numbers of mills.
“DVT IS THE MOUTHPIECE OF THE FEED-PRODUCING COMPANIES”
You have recently celebrated your hundredth year. Congratulations! Can you introduce the German feed industry association DVT to us? What is your role and contribution to the German and global feed sector?
The German Feed Association represents local companies within the agricultural and in particular within the feed value chain. The association represents around 280 members, mostly originating from medium-sized enterprises. Through his members, the DVT implements and ensures highest quality and safety standards within Germany and the European Union for animal feed. Moreover, it provides legal and economics advice, supports his members in political and public discussions.
Thereby the DVT is the mouthpiece for the majority of the feed-producing companies in Germany.
“THE SOCIETY IS OFTEN MISLEAD BY MISINFORMATION ABOUT AGRICULTURE”
What are the difficulties German feed companies come across with and how do they cope with these difficulties?
Agriculture in general is highly emotionally discussed, especially in Germany. Public discussions are often mislead by misinformation, misconception and fear. German feed-producing companies – as part of the value chain – are therefore inevitable involved and thereby undergo a critical evaluation by the public and policy makers. These discussions often involve sourcing practices as well as topics around sustainability in modern farm animal husbandry. The German Feed Association and its members try to balance social, political and economic needs by implementing best practices, quality standards, as well as guidelines.
Sometimes Germany is regarded as the de-facto leader of the EU. How does this affect the top national companies?
We consider ourselves as an important part of Europe. Hence, we proactively engage in political discussions and implementation processes of new, current and updating legislations and regulations. We are confident that other countries and EU bodies can trust in our experience and expertise while contributing to public and political discussions. We are also aware of the different circumstances in each of the EU-member states. Economic, social, and political preconditions – and thereby country-specific requirements can differ.
Global commodity markets create more and greater challenges which we have to face. We, as Europeans, can only solve these problems by implementing uniform standards across member states but which in turn do not jeopardize a country’s flexibility to cope with its own local and unique requirements. Our knowledge and expertise, that we gained through more and more complex debates on national feed security, will surely help us to solve these challenges.
“GERMAN COMPANIES ARE COMPENSATING THE LOSS RESULTING FROM THE DROUGHT OF THIS YEAR”
As a German business association, what kind of cooperation do you have with FEFAC, which you are a member since 1959?
The German Feed Association is one of the founding members of FEFAC and helped constantly improving the European umbrella organisation. FEFAC, as an institution, is an important and highly recognised base for the common representation of compound feed interests in Europe.
Germany is one of the top grain exporters of the EU. However, USDA report says due to this year’s drought the country is expected to be a net grain importer. How do you think this will affect the feed industry? And what do you plan in return?
Indeed, the drought has hit German farmers quite hard, especially in the Eastern parts. German livestock holders suffer from a lack of basic fodder. The reduced yields in rapeseed and wheat have impacted the German compound feed production. However, German companies compensate the local loss with mostly other European imports within a very short period of time. We can see that global harvests do not restrict the availability of raw materials despite crop losses in several regions of the world.
We appreciate the open access to the world markets as it allows us to find substitutes for our needed resources/inputs. The accessibility to the world’s agriculture product portfolio is the best insurance to cope with a drought in a fast and economic suitable way.
“DVT APPRECIATES OPEN MARKET CONDITIONS”
What is the level of your collaboration with your Turkish counterpart, TÜRKİYEM-BİR?
Maybe, this question should be forwarded to FEFAC. Currently, we are not working together.
Do you want to say anything more for our readers who are closely watching the international sector?
Germany has a great demand for high quality feed to supply its high number of farm animals. In order to supply this demand the German Feed Association appreciates the access to the world market and its pool of resources as well as the promotion and introduction of new breeding technologies including GMOs.
We also suggest you to read our previous article titled "“Advancements in analytical techniques provide huge potential to feed safety”".