European feed stocks expected to run out soon
The situation for Europe's farmers is getting worse. Prices are rising and feed stocks are starting to run out. Animal breeders around Europe are deeply concerned. At the same time, the EU and the governments of some countries in various ways prevent farmers from maintaining or increasing their production. This is in addition to the already alarming shortage of seeds and fertilizers.
Published: April 18, 2022, 2:15 pm
Only this autumn will the catastrophic impact be witnessed due to a sharp reduction in grain production. Moreover, meat and milk producers could see large parts of their businesses eliminated long before that. Western leaders have issued warnings about food shortages, but have offered no solutions.
The news agency Reuters recently interviewed the Italian farmer Carlo Vittorio Ferrari, who runs a farm with his brother near the town of Cremona in northern Italy. Among other things, they have about two thousand pigs, which it is now becoming unsustainably expensive to raise. He fears that their fourth-generation family business will be lost due to the conflict in Ukraine, which more and more people believe could be the death knell for global food security. This is because war-ravaged Ukraine and sanctioned Russia, in addition to being major exporters of wheat, maize and fertilizers, were also major suppliers of animal feed globally. Europe’s import-dependent feed stocks have recently declined rapidly and are likely to run out soon.
Michele Liverini, vice president of the Italian feed producer Mangimi Liverini SPA, said that the combination of all negative factors and most recently the war in Ukraine has created a “perfect storm”. Liverini is also sounding the alarm that soon their supply of animal feed will run out.
“In the Italian ports where ships from these countries [Russia and Ukraine] arrived every week, there is now only the equivalent of 25 days of consumption left,” warned the large feed producer.
Meanwhile millions of chickens are being killed in Europe and around the world. Not because there is a lack of food, but to stop an alleged outbreak of bird flu. In the UK, it has not been possible to buy eggs from free-range hens since 19 March, as these have been banned. It looks the same in many other countries, but the establishment media has ignored it.
Worse now than during World War II
European farmers are under a lot of pressure and many see the current situation, which is also rapidly deteriorating, so unsustainable that they do not think they can continue to produce food for long. That fear is also expressed by the pig breeder Ferrari.
“This is a family business. My grandfather kept it going during two world wars, my father saw a [war], but I do not know if we will make it through this,” the owner said.
Italy has the fourth largest livestock herd in the European Union with about 22,5 million animals and Spain has the largest of about 58,8 million. This according to EU statistics for 2021 which include pigs, cows, sheep and goats.
London-based Reuters has not yet reported on the cooler weather at all, with cold snaps and shorter growing seasons in many important growing areas, which since at least 2018 has gradually reduced global food production. To this must be added the devastating Corona restrictions, which since March 2020 have destroyed the global supply chain and severely damaged agriculture in countless ways.
Farmers around the world were forced in 2020-2021 to leave millions of tonnes of vegetables and other things in the fields to rot, as the necessary labor could not or was not allowed to harvest crops. Millions of liters of milk had to be poured out when it could not be processed in time, and millions of eggs were discarded when the factories that produce egg cartons were forced to close down.
Worst of all were probably the millions of animals that had to be killed and buried, when slaughterhouses (which for some reason were the workplaces in the United States which were by far the most affected by alleged Corona outbreaks) were forced to close and could not process the animals. Farmers could not continue to feed their cattle either, as they had become too many and also too old for the required meat quality. It was not so much noticed then, but everything from herds and food stores to the production of frozen and canned food started to run out. Food for hundreds of millions of people no longer exist when it is needed.
‘Green /… / madness before human life’
Individual countries that want to make things easier for their farmers are stopped by the EU. Italy, for example, has asked Brussels to repeal EU rules restricting state aid to agriculture, but was flatly refused. The governments of many countries also prevent farmers from being able to adjust their production so that food security can be ensured. Farmers in North America who want their grain to be food and not biofuels for ethanol are hindered by the Biden administration and farmers in Europe who want to reactivate land set aside with various EU subsidies are also prevented. Farmers are forced to set aside a certain proportion of their agricultural land, as taxes, fees and various governing EU subsidies otherwise make further operations economically unsustainable.
Germany’s agriculture minister, Cem Özdemir, confirmed in March that the EU’s anti-agricultural reforms would remain in force in Germany despite German farmers no longer being able to obtain enough seeds for sowing, fertilizers and animal feed. This infuriated German farmers. One of these, Christian Lohmeyer, pointed out indignantly in a video that “in the midst of a catastrophe like this, green eco-fanaticism – ecological madness is put before human life”.
Spain has taken steps to enable emergency purchases of maize from Argentina and Brazil, but this is not a long-term solution, as the major food-producing countries in South America have already had large parts of their harvest wiped out by either cold or exceptional drought. In Brazil, the severe and prolonged drought in some places has knocked out 90 percent of the expected harvests this season (It is currently harvest time in the southern hemisphere). Neighboring Paraguay has also seen 60 percent of all the country’s soybeans decimated by drought. Soybeans and corn are widely used in animal feed.
The countries of South America are also beginning to secure food supplies for their populations in various ways, which further reduces export capacity even though no export bans have yet been introduced.
Millions of animals could be killed
The situation of European farmers, as Carlo Vittorio Ferrari in Italy explained, is also exacerbated by the fact that countries such as Hungary, Serbia and Moldova have banned the export of various agricultural products because they also want to strengthen their own food security. Initially, this means a shortage and skyrocketing prices for what is left, but soon both fertilizer and animal feed may run out.
Shortages or excessive fertilizer costs force farmers to cultivate a smaller area, as the yield without fertilizer is so low that it becomes unprofitable, especially now with high fuel prices. Just like hauliers, farmers consume a lot of diesel. They also need large amounts of oil, lubricants and other petroleum products for their tractors and not least extremely maintenance-intensive harvesting machines.
Dwindling animal feed stocks mean that cows, pigs and other animals end up being slaughtered.
“It’s not just corn, it’s also soy and many by-products that are difficult to find. It is a huge struggle just to get hold of what is available,” said another Italian farmer Elisabetta Quaini. She keeps around 1 300 cows for beef and milk production on her farm in Lombardy, northern Italy, the first European epicenter for Covid and therefore already in February 2020 hard hit by Corona restrictions. Quaini, who is also vice chairman of Cremona’s independent agricultural association, added that many colleagues had given up and are starting to downsize their herds.
“I hear more and more reports about farmers slaughtering their animals, but I want to avoid it,” said the dairy farmer. It can take up to eight years to restore a milk producing herd. To achieve the same quality today, it will take even longer, as proper breeding animals can take decades – if at all – to raise.
Europe’s populations will be hit very hard if soon millions of animals, which produce meat and dairy products, have to be killed. There will not be enough protein, as chicken and egg production have already been significantly decimated in Europe and increased fishing or fish farming cannot cover the huge losses. Europe’s food security is under threat for the first time in modern times.
The Prime Minister of Canada who has made a name for himself with his outlandish and draconian Corona restrictions, vaccine coercion and relocating people from 30 percent of Canada’s land area, has been issuing the same warnings as US President Joe Biden: Food shortages and “difficult times” are coming – without offering any suggestions for solutions.
“We’ve seen… disruptions of supply chains around the world, which is resulting in higher prices for consumers and democracies, like ours, and resulting in significant shortages and projected shortages of food in places around the world. This is going to be a difficult time because of the war, because of the recovery from the pandemic,” Justin Trudeau told reporters in Vancouver.
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