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FULDA (NNA) – Around 5,600 agricultural establishments in over 50 countries worldwide are applying biodynamic principles on approximately 145,000 hectares. These figures were revealed by Demeter International on occasion of its annual conference which this year was held in Loheland near Fulda in Germany. The revenue generated by these establishments through the production of Demeter products is estimated to be about 220 million euros (£192m; US$317m), Demeter added.

The protection and development of rural culture and the safeguarding of regional structures are among the highest held principles of biodynamic farming. In addition, the worldwide Demeter network works to achieve fairer prices, social commitment and sustainable development in response to the challenges of globalisation. With the action of biodynamic preparations increasing soil fertility and the development of humus, biodynamic farming can also be said to contribute to climate protection because humus acts as a carbon sink.

This year some of the highlights of the conference included the Swiss campaign for “Cows with Horns” and American models of cooperative farming which have also established themselves in Europe. Jim Fullmer from the USA was pleased to note that, on a rising trend, 20 Demeter farms in Germany alone were being operated on a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) basis with the direct involvement of customers in the farm.

In the USA there are 29 Demeter CSA farms, with more planned. For this reason, biodynamic farmers in the USA have developed a new certification model, DemeterLOCAL. All farms that wish to sell licensed Demeter agricultural products must sell their products within a 200-mile zone. “The aspect of regionalism is also very important in Germany,” emphasised Klemens Fischer, Demeter marketing director, who in recent years has initiated a regional approach in the organic food trade in the regions of Baden-Württemberg and North Rhine-Westphalia.

Susanna Küffer presented the Swiss Demeter organisation’s campaign on the theme of prevention of cruelty to animals. This centred on the idea of “Cows and their Horns” and provoked much interest from the public. The emphasis on respect for animals and their integrity had led to a discussion on values, she said.

The Demeter guidelines specify that farm animals should be kept in manner which accords with their species and nature. These guidelines go far beyond what the animal welfare regulations require. Consequently, the guidelines ban the dehorning of cows and calves. This information had triggered widespread support for keeping cows with their horns among animal welfare groups and agricultural organisations in Switzerland.

Both the Dutch and German Demeter organisations also intend to focus shortly on this aspect of animal welfare.
Demeter International was established in 1997. One of the first overseas biodynamic farms, the Finca Irlanda in Mexico, was founded as long ago as 1928. Today the non-profit organisation has 25 members in Europe, America, Africa and New Zealand.
Item: 110731-01EN Date: 31 July 2011
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