January 18, 2021
International Congress Berlin
Farm & Food 4.0
January 18, 2021
International Congress Berlin register

30. October 2019

Politics are in a Sleeping Beauty Slumber

Interview with Dr. Rolf Sommer

By Sarah Liebigt

The nationwide demonstrations by farmers at the end of October provided new food for the debate on the definition of agriculture and its interpretation sovereignty. Who may decide? Who decides what is done? Here and there, in addition to accusations, forward-looking voices have also been heard. “We ask that politicians and responsible NGOs enter the dialogue with us and do not over our heads make decisions that are impracticable or miss the mark,” explained the Trebbin Agricultural Cooperative in a statement published on Facebook. “(…) The permanent negative mood-make burdens us as people and stirs up anger and frustration in the profession.” In an interview with Farm & Food, Dr. Rolf Sommer also calls for the start of a joint dialogue.

Farm & Food: The IPCC report you participated in this summer shows how much the climate crisis is affecting agricultural land use. How can we make agriculture fit for the future?
Dr. Rolf Sommer: The IPCC Special Report emphasizes, among other things, the importance of soil fertility. In order to maintain and develop soil fertility, we have to bring humus into the soil. This has two positive effects: On the one hand, humus soil stores water better: this is particularly important in times of climate change. On the other hand, this soil can bind carbon, ergo greenhouse gases from the air, better.

How can we improve society’s awareness of sustainable consumption?
We in Germany consume much more than our own land yields. In Brazil, rainforests are burned down and converted into soy areas for our fried chicken and steaks. The rainforest also burns for our palm oil consumption in Indonesia. We have to communicate these problems much more clearly; every single consumer is in demand here. Politicians also need to make improvements here.

Following the renewed reduction of the climate package by the German government, the question arises: What opportunities do you see for a political contribution to climate targets at state and local level?
We must not let the Federal Government out of its duty. The climate package as it stands at present is far from sufficient. Above all, it is about promoting renewable energies and a rapid phase-out of coal. The individual countries must not block, as we see it in Bavaria, for example: There, regulatory law prevents wind turbines from being installed.

Which (new) networks do we need, which (new) contacts do we have to establish in order to improve the dialogue between NGOs, agriculture and society without political support and to define and pursue common goals?
If nature conservation organisations and agricultural associations manage to enter into a constructive dialogue, then we will also succeed in developing viable solutions. We need such solutions in order to awaken politics from its slumber.

What makes Farm & Food an interesting event for the WWF?
If Farm & Food manages to enter into an honest dialogue with agriculture and nature conservation organisations and develop solutions, then we can put an end to the current confusion in agricultural policy.

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