A DIFFERENT LOOK
Documentaries about people and their worlds
The Milk Rebels
A film by Karin de Miguel-Wessendorf and Valentin Thurn
The milk in the supermarket gets cheaper and cheaper. The consequence for the dairy farmers: increase or shut down! In the last decade, one-third of German dairy farmers have had to give up - the number of giant firms has also increased. In huge stables hundreds of cows stand close together. To ensure maximum performance, the animals do not reach the pasture even in the summer.
Also the dairies are getting bigger: multinational corporations like Arla or Friesland-Campina have taken over the small regional dairies and export milk to China. But they are also dependent on the price of the supermarkets, mainly by Aldi or Lidl. "Consumers are not honest with themselves," criticizes a farmer from Kleve in the Lower Rhine region. "They tell us they are ready to spend more on organic and regional food, but then we meet them all at ALDI." He thinks the farm dying is inevitable, only large farms are competitive: "We can not go on with the romantic agriculture as we had it 20, 30 years ago, the hard reality is, only the one who can handle the costs will survive."
But some small dairy farmers dare to stand up against the development on the dairy market: they rely on direct marketing and better prices. For example, a farmer from the district of Soest, who founded a peasant dairy with others in order to get rid of the quoted price of the giants.
Or a young farmer from the Siegerland region: "Already in training, we are told that we should invest in larger stables, but I would like an agriculture in family hand in which every animal is not just a number." In March 2015, the last protection for small farmers will fall: with the EU-wide end of the milk quota. If the dairy market is liberalized, many fear a new price decline. It is a fight like David against Goliath, because they can't rely on the support of the peasant federation and the federal government. Those have decided long ago that modern agriculture can only function in large structures.