“The cow decides for herself”

Agriculture is anything but old wagon wheels and wooden plows. The bavarian farmers’ association (BBV) now wants to renew this nostalgic image with an image campaign. We spoke to hans rebelein, managing director of the coburg and lichtenfels farmers’ association, about the implementation of the campaign, young farmers and self-determined cows.

FT: how is the profession of farming currently perceived by the public??
Hans rebelein: not so long ago, there were surveys on the value of professions in the public eye, and farmers came in third. So you can say that it is a very positive picture. Farmers often don’t believe it themselves, but it’s actually the case. I think this is because many people trust their local farmers. You can already see that regional products are more popular than organic products. People simply trust the farmers in their area, in the region, to deliver the best quality.

If the image is already so positive, why an image campaign??
There is nothing that could not be improved upon. We would like to emphasize the modernity of agriculture, because often only the nostalgic is seen. But not everything was better in the past. Today, for example, it would no longer be permissible to keep animals in the same way as 50 or 80 years ago. There were no windows in the barns and the ceilings were low. According to today’s standards, the animals have air and light and can move freely as far as possible.

Besides new forms of husbandry, what else plays a role in modern agriculture??
Two other major aspects of livestock farming are feeding and milking techniques. Today, we can adapt the feed to the specific needs of the animal. We know what minerals and vitamins are needed. Moreover, thanks to new techniques we have a high quality silage, which is better for the animals. And only a healthy cow is a productive cow.
Milking techniques meet modern hygiene standards – because a lot of emphasis is placed on this today. It’s a world away from what it used to be. If the milk was produced as it was then, it was certainly not allowed to be sold. Modern technology also helps with the milking process itself. Today, milking robots do the work that previously had to be done by hand. This is mainly due to the coarseness of the farms.

Is not this unpleasant for the cows?
No. They have to get used to it, but after a while they even go in voluntarily. The advantage for the cow is that she decides for herself when she is milked.

Back to the campaign: how it is being implemented?
We offer commercials on the internet. Our motto is "agriculture today for tomorrow". In addition, there will be a large poster campaign throughout bavaria. But there will be no special information event or anything like that.

What effect do you hope to have?
That we will make it from place 3 to place 1 in the ratings. Of course, this is a high goal, but it must be our ambition. The most important thing now is that our 10,000 or so volunteers support us. Then the campaign can be a complete success, despite the low level of funding.
Of course, we also have to make sure that we retain young people in the profession. In the district of lichtenfels alone, we need at least 15 farm successors every year, which are not always easy to find. Most of them are still family businesses, but in recent times there have also been more and more lateral entrants. At the vocational school, there are already a third of the students – many more than just a few years ago. But of course they do not all stay in agriculture.

Who created the concept?
We have not hired a media agency, because that would have been very costly. Instead, employees of the farmers’ association tuffed it all out. By the end of the year, people will be able to admire the results everywhere.

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