On national level, a federal livestock keeping-strategy is in development for many years. The Federal Ministry is being supported by the “Borchert-Commission” that has several working groups. These are based upon different livestock species and draw up recommendations. National and state ministers wish for a quick implementation of these recommendations in this process.
EQAsce has spoken to Dr. Friedhelm Jaeger who is head of the project group “livestock keeping strategy” of the Ministry for Environment, Agriculture, Conservation and Consumer Protection of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia.
EQAsce: Dr. Jaeger, you are member of several committees mentioned above. What is your roadmap for 2021, which goals have you set?
Dr. Jaeger: First, I am incredibly happy about the broad societal consensus about the further development of our agricultural livestock farming. We have published our concept for this field on January 22nd , 2020. And we are happy to see that our competence network livestock farming at the Federal Ministry – the Borchert Commission – agrees on the key statements. For the development of our livestock keeping strategy, close cooperation in international networks – especially with the excellence University of Bonn – was an advantage. Taking the global market into account, it is necessary to see agricultural livestock farming in a global context.
Now it is important to take the right decisions for the targeted transformation process from a legal perspective. Most important in this context are construction law and environmental law. Environment protection and animal welfare are equal-ranking national objectives that must not be played off against each other but must be brought into balance. I am confident that this will succeed.
For the implementation of the recommendations by the “Borchert Commission” I see the need for more speed. The current tense situation at agricultural businesses shows that action is required. Therefore, North Rhine-Westphalia will come up with an initiative at the conference of all Ministers of Agriculture in March.
EQAsce: All actors of North Rhine-Westphalia who are involved into the implementation of the livestock keeping strategy are internationally cross-linked. That is why the State of North Rhine-Westphalia promotes the special project research network NRW under the acronym “Triangle.Net NRW”. Why is it important to implement research, innovation, and education into a network strategy?
Dr. Jaeger: All developments and implementations of new technology and processes into agriculture need to be based on science. Livestock farmers need planning security and certainty that the taken measures are sustainable. That is why we have chosen many different actions, where the projects “stable of the future” and regular “practical tests” are standing out. This can only succeed if you can base your developments on a broad expertise. And that is why I am happy to see that the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelm-University of Bonn gives significant input by doing the project “Triangle.Net NRW” which is coordinated by EQAsce.
EQAsce: Does the current exceptional situation – the combination of corona pandemic and the African Swine Flu, especially in the value-added chain pork – lead to a delay of actions or does it accelerate the measures to take?
Dr. Jaeger: The current challenges are a kind of burning glass which clearly shows the need for transformation. At the same time, the pressure increases to put into practice all necessary measures instead of delaying them. The crisis, especially in pig farming, is one to be taken seriously and we need to support the sector in finding solutions for the future. Proven production and marketing chains shall not be destroyed; they need to be strengthened. North Rhine-Westphalia is leading the way and setting examples because of its dense infrastructure in the agri and food sector. There is no other region of the EU that has a similar structure and that is why North Rhine-Westphalia is called “fat stain of the EU” in EU-circles. This leads to a great knowhow that you can find here, and this is a huge advantage that we must use.
EQAsce: Which function can the project “stable of the future” at “Haus Düsse” have for international networks?
Dr. Jaeger: The project “stable of the future” in the field of swine fattening is a central one for the livestock keeping strategy of North Rhine-Westphalia. It follows the higher levels two and three of the planned federal animal welfare label and functions as a flagship project. It is a blueprint for the fulfillment of higher animal welfare standards and shows how to fulfill regulations for a high level of environmental protection at the same time. This undertaking has high multiplier effect for the agricultural practice and practices-oriented science.
Another NRW-project – “innovation cluster stable construction” – complements the undertaking. This one is about evaluating new ideas of industry and practice concerning animal husbandry at an early stage from a professional point of view. Up to now, 40 new ideas for technique, systems or husbandry methods have been handed in (November 2020), that will be analyzed by an advisory board now. We have gotten ideas from small, medium, and big enterprises as well as from farmers. And the environmental aspect plays a crucial role. Additionally, there is a communication and evaluation platform which is a dynamic supplement to the instruction project “stable of the future”. A societal accepted and economically sustainable “animal keeping of the future” needs latest developed techniques and systems. This is a goal that our project “innovation cluster stable construction” picks up and leads to a high level of flexibility and handling. This a new complex approach that does not exist so far. Regarding Germany, North Rhine-Westphalia is a pioneer in this field.