Just Agriculture, Alimentation Sovereignty and Forest Use

Gradual reduction of forage fields

What's the problem?

The dominance of climate-damaging animal production in agriculture (cf. voluntary commitment to reduce animal production) is reflected in its immense land consumption: More than 50% of Germany's agricultural land is used as forage fields, of which more than 60% is used for the cultivation of fodder, the rest as grazing land (all figures for 2013 according to BMEL0).

This proportion of land includes former moorland areas, especially in Lower Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, which cause particularly high →greenhouse gas emissions and need to be drained (cf. Protection and rewetting of moorland soils).

But other climate protection measures in agriculture also require land: for conversion to more land-intensive organic farming, for the cultivation of renewable raw materials, and for the use of soil and vegetation as a Co2 sink.

These areas can be gained by reducing the number of forage fields without reducing the amount of locally produced food. This is because 2-30 times more land is required to produce 1 calorie of animal food than to produce the same amount of plant food (cereals: 1 sqm/1Mkal, beef: 31.2 sqm/1Mkal (according to Peters et al., 2007, quoted by Schlatzer, 20110).

What's the measure?

The measure consists of a combination of closure and conversion from feed to food production.

How can this be implemented?

  • Closures should be carried out in accordance with climate- and nature protective considerations (especially moors and former moors) and preferably affect larger farms.
  • Smaller farms receive compensatory land if a closure is necessary. Otherwise, they are only affected by measures for conversion.
  • The set-aside areas remain in the possession of the farms and are managed by them in accordance with local planning authorities in return for payment or compensation.
  • If the measure starts in 2025, approximately 200,000 ha are to be set aside or converted annually in order to reduce the forage fields in 2050 to 15% of the cultivated farmland in 2013.
  • The measure is planned for the long term so that farms can adapt to it.

How does this counteract climate change?

On one hand, the greenhouse gas emissions from livestock production (88 million tonnes CO2/Eq in 2010, with a strong upward trend ) will be reduced, and on the other hand, further climate protection measures, such as the rewetting of moors (see Protection and rewetting of moor soils), will then become possible in the first place.

Which other effects does the measure have?

Livestock production is changing to a predominantly extensive and therefore more environmentally friendly method of husbandry and is also being greatly reduced, with extremely positive consequences for →Biodiversity and water management. Nitrogen emissions and the resulting forest damages are reduced.

How quickly can the measure be implemented?

The measure should start after the import of feed has stopped (cf. stop of feed imports).

References to other measures

There are references to other measures:

Further literature, sources

  1. Schlatzer (2011): Tierproduktion und Klimawandel. Ein wissenschaftlicher Diskurs zum Einfluss der Ernährung auf Umwelt und Klima, Münster: ,
  2. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: Modellauswertung für Deutschland mit Standard-Parametern vom 25.10.2019
  3. Bundesministerium für Ernährung und Landwirtschaft: Statistisches Jahrbuch über Ernährung, Landwirtschaft und Forsten (2015)