Agriculture is shaped by individuals. In Germany several hundred thousand people on farms and in the food industry decide which agricultural products are produced where and how - and what side effects this entails. As our society is not indifferent to how food is produced and how agricultural structures develop, policymakers are called on again and again to introduce "safeguards" and to influence market development.
Farms and enterprises in the agricultural sector face stiff regional and international competition. Therefore, they cannot afford to voluntarily accept less profitable solutions. That’s why political decision-makers provide financial incentives for certain forms of production. Frequently however, they reduce entrepreneurs’ scope for action by imposing regulations.
In order to be able to give advice to policymakers about how they can satisfy the differing societal demands made on the agricultural sector without, at the same time, jeopardising the goal of competitive agriculture we examine (a) how individual production methods, types of farm and the overall agricultural sector are affected when technical, economic and political framework conditions change, (b) how they can adapt and what consequences this has (competitiveness, income, structural change, environmental effects) and (c) what measures policymakers can take in order to achieve agricultural and social policy goals.
In this context we take into account the highly diverse agricultural structures and production systems in the various regions of Germany and the close involvement of German agriculture and the food industry in international competition. At the same time, we look at how the adaptation options of the agricultural sector change as a consequence of technical progress and political framework conditions.
For major branches of German agriculture we examine international competitiveness. This is done, for example, in the worldwide agri benchmark network which is lead scientifically by the Thünen Institute. In collaboration with the Thünen Institute of Market Analysis we look at the entire value chain: farm, processing, trade and consumption. Furthermore, we analyse the impact on individual farms of diverse measures of German and European agricultural policy like, for example, agricultural investment funding or the support of organic farming.
In the Thünen Model Network we estimate - together with the Thünen Institutes of Rural Studies and Market Analysis - the impact of political management options on German agriculture with the help of representative data sets and models