Press release: German agri-cartel revealed

New study reveals handful of people call the shots in German and European agriculture politics

Today, NABU (BirdLife Germany) released an investigation which sheds light on the German agricultural sector’s lobbying efforts. More specifically, it reveals the ties and interests of the German Farmers Association (DBV) – an agricultural ‘umbrella organisation’ linked to 18 federal state farmer associations and 380 000 farmers, with a turnover of over 50 billion euros/year.

The investigation exposes the small, close-knit group of actors in German agribusiness and the agricultural policy sector, who divide up key positions among themselves. Often occupying multiple roles, these individuals are predominantly high-level officials of the DBV and its regional associations [1]. For example:

  • Joachim Rukweid, the President of the DBV: sits on the supervisory board of BayWa AG, a large agricultural input supplier (pesticides, fertilisers, seeds) and also sits on the board of Südzucker AG (the biggest sugar producer in Europe), and R+V Allgemeine Versicherung AG (one of the biggest insurance companies in Germany). Since 2017, he is also the president of COPA-COGECA at Brussels level, giving him the possibility to enter Council meetings of the ministers, being able to influence the debate on the CAP reform.

Agribusiness is able to maintain its links to politics and agricultural committees in both the German and European Parliaments thanks to its close connections to members of the Christian Democratic Party (CDU/CSU) and the European People’s Party (EPP). Over 85% of German Christian Democrat committee members are stakeholders in the farming and agricultural sector, and more than half of their committee members hold a position at one of the Farmers Association’s various organisational levels [2].

Harriet Bradley, EU Agriculture Policy Officer, BirdLife Europe:
“Forget revolving door, today’s study shows that the politicians currently deciding on farm subsidies, the conventional farm lobby, and the pesticides companies can be the same, exact people. No wonder Europe’s current agriculture and agriculture policy leads to further intensification that is sucking the life out of Europe’s rural areas: from people, to sustainable farmers, to birds, to insects. Last week, a survey of farmers in Germany showed that the majority are fed up with a farm policy tailored to suit the interests of a powerful minority. And they are right. It is unjustifiable to spend almost 60bn of taxpayers’ money per year in this way”.


For more information, please contact:

Harriet Bradley, EU Agriculture Policy Officer:
+32 478 88 73 02


[1] Other examples of individuals in multiple roles:

  • Johannes Röring, member of the Bundestag (CDU) and chairman of the Agricultural Committee, which prepares the parliamentary decisions on nutrition and agriculture, including CAP and national agricultural policy is also the President of the Farmers’ association WLV (the farmer's association in the region Westfalia-Lippe), on the Supervisory Board LAND-DATA GmbH (an important software developer for agricultural accounting and accounting service), and actively involved in the German fertilizer ordinance. Both his electoral district and his family's pig fattening farm are in Borken, an area with very high animal density in Germany.

[2] Over 85% of German Christian Democrat committee members are stakeholders in the farming and agricultural sector, and more than half of their committee members hold a position at one of the Farmers Association’s various organisational levels, For example:

  • MEP Albert Dess: Apart from his political work at the European Parliament, he is a member of the corporate advisory committee BayWa AG München (Agricultural input supplier; seeds, pesticides, fertilizers, machinery), and Honorary District Chairman of a Bavarian farmer's association
  • Franz-Josef Holzenkamp, is on the supervisory board of AGRAVIS (an agricultural and service supply company), and president of Deutsche Raiffeisenverband German cooperatives association), as well as holding a position at farmer's association at federal level
  • Albert Stegeman, sits on the board of trustees of QS GmbH (a certification scheme for meat and meat products), and is involved in a farmer's association at district level

BirdLife Europe and Central Asia is a partnership of 48 national conservation organisations and a leader in bird conservation. Our unique local to global approach enables us to deliver high impact and long term conservation for the benefit of nature and people. BirdLife Europe and Central Asia is one of the six regional secretariats that compose BirdLife International. Based in Brussels, it supports the European and Central Asian Partnership and is present in 47 countries including all EU Member States. With more than 4100 staff in Europe, two million members and tens of thousands of skilled volunteers, BirdLife Europe and Central Asia, together with its national partners, owns or manages more than 6000 nature sites totalling 320,000 hectares.