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Staatliches Verbot des Einkaufs von Lebensmitteln und Agrarerzeugnissen unterhalb der Produktionskosten: Erfahrungen in Spanien, Frankreich und Italien sowie Einschätzungen zu einer möglichen Umsetzung in Deutschland

Bernhard Forstner

No 338349, Thünen Working Paper from Johann Heinrich von Thünen-Institut (vTI), Federal Research Institute for Rural Areas, Forestry and Fisheries

Abstract: The core of this working paper is the examination of a government-imposed ban on the purchase of agricultural and food products below their production costs. In Germany, there has been an important political discussion on this topic for several years, which finally found its way into the coalition agreement of the German government in the form of a study mandate. In the discussion, it is often pointed out that such a ban already exists in several European countries and that Germany should follow suit. Indeed, in recent years, the EU member states Spain, France, and Italy have adopted legal regulations to determine producer prices based on production costs. The aim of these regulations is to strengthen the position of the production sector vis-à-vis the processing industry and trade and to improve farmers' incomes. The study begins with an overview of the existing regulations in Spain, France and Italy, and the experience gained so far in terms of implementation and impact in these countries. Both legally and in terms of content, the respective regulations are quite different. While Spain and Italy impose an outright ban on purchasing below production costs, the regulations in France only require that production costs be taken into account when setting prices. One aspect common to all three countries is the general obligation to conclude a contract prior to the delivery of goods. It's also worth noting that important product categories and distribution channels are already exempted from these regulations by law or decree. As the regulations specifically focusing on cost-based pricing will only enter into force in the three countries at the end of 2021, there is no clear impact on markets and producer prices yet. The experts' assessments of the potential impact vary widely, with the primary level generally viewing the regulations as expectedly positive, while the processing and trade levels are more critical. The second part of the study summarizes the assessments of relevant actors regarding a possible implementation of a "purchase ban below production costs" and its consequences in Germany. These assessments are based on numerous expert interviews and three industry-specific workshops with actors from the value chains. Depending on the group of actors and the product category, market control interventions were evaluated quite differently. Particularly among primary producers in the cattle and pig sectors, there are influential groups advocating stronger market regulation, mandatory contracts and cost-covering prices. On the other hand, the food industry, especially the export-oriented segment, and the large trading companies are interested in international competitiveness and therefore reject intervention in free price formation. From the point of view of the majority of the scientific participants in the study, a government-mandated cost orientation of prices is not an appropriate measure to improve farmers' incomes. Intra-sectoral competition would persist due to significant individual cost differences, and without volume control and EU-wide regulation, significant distortions of competition and production shifts would result. Desirable production methods to achieve sustainability, climate, animal welfare, etc. objectives should be supported by specific measures. Recently, a number of associations have put forward proposals to sustainably increase farmers' incomes, particularly in the beef and pig sectors. In various cooperation and discussion formats, including large trading companies, solutions are being developed to improve cooperation between stakeholders at different levels of the value chain. Some proposals are listed in this working paper, but not analyzed in depth.

Keywords: Agricultural and Food Policy; Food Consumption/Nutrition/Food Safety; Production Economics (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2023
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DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.338349

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