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Laurent

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Land grabbing.
« on: July 10, 2013, 12:59:51 PM »
I received an email from the "reclaim the field european mailing list" (http://reclaimthefields.org/). There is land grabbing in Germany (in France also) and we should not let do that, it is our futur that is at stake. (Especially if climatic problem are real))

-LANDGRABBING CLOSE TO BERLIN
-SMALL ORGANIC FARM GOES INTO THE DEFENCE
-ACTIONS PLANNED

Why on earth is a small organic farm writing a public statement, one might ask? We the farm, the association and all the employees, members and friends want to express something in this publication of which we feel is of great importance, not only to us, but also for all. We understand that the process we are exposed to is characteristic for something hitting the whole region and surely many other regions in the world.

Even when naming it a rural phenomena one might argue how deeply it effects the livelihoods of city folks too. 

Landgrabbing? Ever heard of it?
(It’s something like when in the cities you get kicked outta your apartement, after the rents are rising since years.)
What does landgrabbing have to do with you? Do you like to determine what you eat (maybe choosing regional products), find some resort in the surrounding nature or have you ever discussed why more and more (young) people leave the countryside? –This, by the way being a massively discussed problem concerning east Germany, where we live.

One aspect that plays into all these and more points here abouts is the land privatization policy decided upon after East Germany was united with the West. The importance of access to land is quite clear: without it we can’t produce any regional food, without sustainable agriculture our surrounding is already more and more shaped into endless agricultural deserts, without work binding (regional) businesses and structures there is no future perspectives for us (young) people in eastern Germany or anywhere else in the world. 

Landgrabbing in Germany?
Yes –and actually just in front of our little farm door. Since three years we the organic farm of Bienenwerder are under the constant pressure of loosing our existence due to the land privatization policies of our government. And now, once again they are putting out for sale a chunk of land surrounding our farm.

Just to give you a single example of the massive scale the sales are leading to that we’re talking about: KTG Agrar, the first German purely agricultural business at the stock market already owns something like 35 000 ha in our region. Starting from somewhere behind our back door in loose plots all the way to the polish border. They own lands all the way up to Lithuania too.

This land privatization process –or let’s call it sellout has been decided on years ago, just when the wall between western and eastern Germany came down. It has been defined by its major wrong in which the decision of who gets the formally socialist state owned land is only determined by the highest bid. The bet does not go to those who prove they will farm sustainably, or create work places, or who might actually live there. This paved way for the masses of public land being sold only to big enterprises and investors.

The criteria are in no way adjusted to the importance a piece of land might have for a real existing local business. An “independent” enterprise was founded for the purpose of facilitating the selling. This agency is called “BVVG – Bodenverwertungs und –verwaltungs GmbH” which translates into something like “Land utilization and administration Company”. Having the wrong policy making strengthening their evil back bone, their selling strategies have further tightened reality for local farming. This lead to a massive growth of property sizes for some, while most small and middle scale businesses are on the losing side. The world agricultural report has already confirmed the importance of exactly these smaller sized farms as indispensable for rural development just as for the sufficient covering of the needs for people in the cities with diverse foods.

We are exactly such a farm: our size is in proportion to regional farms quite small (about 50 ha), we grow a big diversity of more than 100 different vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers. Instead of dumping loads of money into expensive techniques and petrol we work sustainably with many people and working horses –without being romantically back worded. We market our products directly to nearby Berlin. Surrounding lands are the grazing lands for our goats and working horses, whilst in the same time giving space to the wild living biodiversity. They feed directly into the waters and areas of a natural reserve park.

The result of what happens when „somebody“ gets the land is what we in these days whitness also in front of our door: the last sold out pieces of forest went to a private investor, who started off by sending in the massive harvester machines for an intensive wood harvest and is now planning a big scale application to the whole forest with “Roundup”, a glyphosate total herbicide –Bon Appetit and long live the protection of biodiversity!

Through our efforts we have in the recent years been able to secure some pieces of land and we have become known as a farm that knows how to resist. Since the “Confederation of young farmers” was founded last year and supported the demands as that of our farm in a united manner the political pressure has been effectively increased on the BVVG to act a tiny bit more decent in the public eye. Only through political campaigns did we find out about the possibility the agency actually had to put land out for sale in so called limited auctions. The criteria underlining these, is that only young farmers, organic farmers or intensive farmers (carefull: here they implicitly mean intensive animal farming too) can apply to buy. Of course they had never in the past mentioned or offered such a possibility to any of the lands any of us is relying on.

Part of these criteria could be a reason of joy to us, no question. But again they need to be put in the context we are in: the BVVG has for years long not come up with their obligation to use this possibility. Sometimes they would have silently put out a “little triangle plot of land between two train tracks” only that there were no organic farms around and not even a path leading to the land. Then they could easily say nobody had an interest. None of us has ever been offered a chance in a limited auction for the lands we live on and that we asked to buy. Now we young farmers have started to defend ourselves. That is good news. The pressure has been increased.

Now the next plot at our farm is out in a limited auction. Our farm is to be used to state an example of an agencys’ good will that never had none.

While we have to compete in a system we can’t compete with they have put one more criteria, a very simple and material criteria we can’t fulfill: the money. The minimum offer they set the bid to start with is determined by the highest offers they have in the past achieved to gain in sales for lands in recent years in the surrounding region. The price developments though themselves have been created by the selling strategies of the BVVG and the investors needs to invest in uneasy times. A farm like ours, which suddenly was confronted with their little lands being put out for sale, the lands our vegetable gardens are on, just adjacent to our houses was of course “willing” to pay the higher and higher prices the BVVG demanded. By doing this to save our existence in the past, we ourselves were instruments in developing the high prices per hectare of the presence.  These prices have easily tripled in less than five years.
 
They are by now completely decoupled from what you can re-earn by any “normal” farming on Brandenburger lands (usually lots of sand). We perceive this limited auction of our surrounding lands by the BVVG as a so called offer to us young sustainable farmers  as the impertinence it is, when we know it is supposed to serve only the cause of freeing the responsible policy and the BVVG from public pressure. As long as the method of price is another method against us, just to be able to say afterwards we weren’t there to put a bid, this is nothing but washing themselves. Of course young farmers, small scale farmers, middle scale farmers and sustainable farmers cannot compete on this level.

The responsibility lies with the BVVG, through the strategies they use, just as it lies with the Ministry of Finance which overlooks and decides on all transactions and by its role is politically paving way for the sellout of our common good: the regional agricultural lands.

As a farm we demand a reasonable orientation of price and not one that orientates itself on landgrabbing in East Germany which we (all) can’t afford. We will not let ourselves be instrumentalised as a greenwashing strategy of the BVVG or our government.
As young farmers we demand an immediate stop to all sales and a common decision for land giving policies of the remaining lands in East Germany.
We invite you as consumers of food, as inhabitants of the region and as participants of shared struggles to develop these demands together with us. We can not defend our common grounds alone and we are not defending our individual future.
 
IN THE COMING WEEKS WE ARE PLANNING DIFFERENT ACTIONS:

-          17. JULY, 2 pm: Come all to our public money-throw-out to the central office of the BVVG in Berlin!

BVVG Bodenverwertungs- und -verwaltungs GmbH
Schönhauser Allee 120
10437 Berlin
Telefon: 0 30/44 32-0
Fax: 0 30/44 32-12 15
 
INFO AND CONTACT:
JULIA BAR-TAL (Hof Bienenwerder): 0049 - 176 64 27 32 98
bienenwerder@web.de
http://www.stopp-landgrabbing.de/

Press contact:
Office BÜNDNIS JUNGE LANDWIRTSCHAFT
C/o Zukunftsstiftung Landwirtschaft
Marienstraße 19/ 20
10117 Berlin
Tel.: 030/27590309
Campaign office:
Willi Lehnert
Mail to: landgrabbing-presse(at)riseup.net

Office open on:
Mondays from 2 pm to 6 pm
Thursdays from  10 am to 1 pm



///Newsletter Landgrabbing in Ostdeutschland\\\

Internetauftritt:

www.stopp-landgrabbing.de

Listenadresse:
landgrabbing@lists.riseup.net

Habt viel Spasz und Freude:)

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F.Tnioli

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Re: Land grabbing.
« Reply #1 on: August 08, 2013, 12:19:37 PM »
Touching story.

But that part about someone buying a forest, then cutting it down, and then willing to wipe out what remains with that roundup herbicide - that sounds really bad. Can see why it was done: as simple as for profit, eh. Can see by whom it was done: there are always folks who care ONLY about well-being of their own pocket, whatever it takes to get more profit - will be done. Can see that the same thing is happening all around the world nowadays, on all scales.

Can't see how mankind can survive at all, if such things would go on for couple more decades, unchecked.

I wish it'd be possible to make such crimes against nature to be NOT profitable in $ terms; but the truth apparently is, it's impossible. Wood has objective value, and use; cutting down a forest _is_ massively profitable in short-term. And whatever institutions which could theoretically punish such deals to an extent to make them not-profitable, - are few and scarce in compare to number and monetary "weight" of people and companies who are willing to go on with the destruction of the Nature for the sake of easy dollar.


But no matter the above, i salute and admire all the efforts of honest farmers. I wish them the best of luck and a good future.