The alpine future of agriculture is best discussed directly in the mountains with a view of the peaks, in keeping with the motto: "Remains the farmer, lives the alpine pasture" of the Alps.Summit.Europe.2022. In the Bavarian idyll of the Untere Firstalm, stakeholders from mountain agriculture met representatives from politics, associations, science, nature conservation and tourism from Germany, Austria, South Tyrol and Switzerland.
In his welcoming speech, Alois Glück, former President of the Bavarian Parliament, emphasized the importance of mutual listening and gave impulses for continuing the dialogue in order to develop approaches to solutions for the future of alpine agriculture. Alois Glück co-initiated the summit.
Exchange and approaches for the Alpine region
Over many generations, mountain farmers have turned the alpine mountain landscape into a cultural landscape. A region in which 14 million people live and which 50 million people visit every year. "If cultivation by mountain farmers is discontinued, the alpine pastures would overgrow and no longer be accessible. The forest would spread and biodiversity would be lost. This would also mean the loss of tourism," warned Walter Heidl, President of the Bavarian Farmers' Association.
The high number of mountain bikers, which has continued to grow strongly with the e-bike trend, brings challenges. The participants in the discussion round agree: the responsibility to protect the mountain landscape naturally lies not only with farmers and associations such as the German Alpine Association (DAV), but also quite clearly with tourists. "The Alpine region is a pearl within Europe, a man-made cultural landscape that must be protected," adds Joachim Rukwied, president of the German Farmers' Association (DBV).
The return of large predators, such as the wolf, among others, in the European region triggered an emotional debate. Some farmers worriedly reported painful losses in their herds. The regional representative of BUND Naturschutz Bayern, Martin Geilhufe pleaded for people in Germany to learn to live with the wolf, but at the same time emphasized the special importance of mountain farming for biodiversity.
"The heart of every mountain farmer is attached to their own animals. This is also about respect and acceptance from the population, we need an understanding of the species protection status in the Alpine region. Animal protection goes both ways - that is, wild animals and farm animals," assured Michaela Kaniber, Minister of State for Food, Agriculture and Forestry, in the discussion with Norbert Totschnig, Federal Minister for Agriculture, Regions and Tourism Austria. Norbert Totschnig also emphasized the importance of regional agriculture for food security in Europe: "If we drive the farmers from the alpine pastures, food imports will also increase. That's what we want to prevent."
The fragile balance in the Alps cannot be saved from one day to the next. But the discussions and dialogue at the Alpine Agriculture Summit brought the key challenges into focus and made it clear that solutions are needed.
Christine Singer, deputy state farmer of Bavaria, closed the panel discussion and the summit with an appeal,
the panel discussion and the Alps.Summit.Europe.2022: "The beautiful panorama here on our alpine pastures was created by our ancestors, we must protect this cultural landscape!"
"Supporting a transnational event in the alpine region is genuine project of the heart for us. This region is important for us and we have many customers here with very specific requirements. We offer products that have been specially developed for the small-structured farmers in the alpine pastures. For example, the Fendt 200 Vario, thanks to its maneuverability, or the Fendt Tigo ST loader wagon, with its low center of gravity, are ideal companions for farming on steep slopes and are very popular with mountain farmers. This is why Fendt is sponsoring Alpen.Gipfel.Europa.2022," explains Manfred Proebstle, Business Manager Southern Germany Fendt.
About the Alps.Summit.Europe.2022
The Alps.Summit.Europe.2022 is the first event and is supported by the Alliance for Mountain Agriculture. This alliance is composed of the Austrian Farmers' Association, the Swiss and Bavarian Farmers' Associations, the Baden-Württemberg Farmers' Association, the Baden Agricultural Association, the South Tyrolean and Tyrolean Farmers' Associations, the Alpine Farmers' Association of Upper Bavaria and the Alpine Farmers' Association in the Allgäu region. 220 participants from the regions of Germany, Austria, South Tyrol and Switzerland attended the one-day event. In addition, a livestream was offered. This year's event was sponsored by Fendt.