Institute of

Farm Economics

Deputy Director


Kerstin Martens
Institute of Farm Economics

Bundesallee 63
38116 Braunschweig
Phone: +49 531 596 5102
Fax: +49 531 596 5199


Feeding plays an important role in milk production.
Feeding plays an important role in milk production. (© Thünen-Institut/Birthe Lassen)

With a market share of more than 20 percent, Germany is the biggest milk producer of the EU. Nearly one out of four agricultural farms in Germany keeps dairy cows. Milk production is the most important livestock branch and usually contributes, with around 18 percent, the biggest proportion to the production value of German agriculture.

Due to the milk quota regulation, milk production has been constant for many years. Against the background of the abolishment of the milk quota in 2015, and also because of rising milk prices in some years, milk production has increased continuously. The rise in milk production is in line with an increase of dairy exports.

With the end of the milk quotas in Spring 2015, milk producers can now define their production quantities according to their own assessments. This new freedom, however, comes with new challenges: more volatile prices can be observed than in the past. Thus risk management is gaining importance. In addition, land scarcity, a lack of qualified labour and increasing societal requirements for environmentally and animal friendly production are challenging up to date.

cattles on the meadow
cattles on the meadow (© Thünen-Institut/Birthe Lassen)

Against this background, we address the following research questions:

  • How do changes in economic, political and legal framework conditions impact the international competitiveness of milk production?
  • How can competitiveness be improved?
  • How will the structure of milk production look in future?
  • How can the environmental balance, working conditions and animal welfare be improved without jeopardising the profitability?

Many of the above mentioned questions can only ab addressed in a European or global context as most dairy products are commodities which can be traded and substituted globally. Thus, German producers are not just competing with their neighbours but also and mainly with their European colleagues. As a consequence, we are working closely with the network of the European Dairy Farmers Network . In this network, milk producers take the opportunity to compare their farms with the help of our cost analysis and to discuss adjustment strategies. They are closely accompanied by a scientific network which is coordinated by the Thünen Institute.

In Germany we combine our scientific resources with the University of Göttingen in the network Jointly, we provide data and facts as well as project results on recent developments in milk production.

dairy cows in a freestall barn
dairy cows in a freestall barn (© Thünen-Institut/Birthe Lassen)

Dossier: Nutztierhaltung und Fleischproduktion in Deutschland

Feeding plays an important role in milk production.
Feeding plays an important role in milk production. (© Thünen-Institut/Birthe Lassen)

Im Themenfeld Nutztierhaltung und Aquakultur finden Sie Steckbriefe zur Tierhaltung in Deutschland, die in komprimierter Form aktuelle Daten zu Entwicklungen der Bestände, der Produktion, Produktionssysteme, Handel, Preisen und Wirtschaftlichkeit präsentieren.

Zusätzliche Informationen finden Sie im Dossier.