More plant-based diets could significantly increase farm incomes
A change in diets with more plants and fewer animal products is often seen critically in the agricultural sector. However, it is often overlooked that an increasingly plant-based diet could increase profits in the agricultural sector - even in regions where animal husbandry now accounts for the largest part of income. This is the result of a study by the Thünen model network, where MAGNET was one of the models - that was published in the Journal of Agricultural Economics. According to the study, agricultural incomes in Germany could increase by around 20% in the long term, while the increase for the entire EU27 could even amount to 71%. This can be attributed to a strong increase in demand and the associated high price level for fruit and vegetables. This results in a significantly higher value-added per hectare of cultivation area. The results of the study also show that the regional and farming context is very important. For example, countries like Germany, Denmark and Ireland, which specialize in animal husbandry, would see income losses, at least in the short term – where only minor structural adjustments occur. For Germany, that would mean an average drop in income of around 12%. Cattle farms in northern Germany would be hit the hardest, with up to 50% income losses. Conversely, German vegetable farms could also receive up to 50% additional income in the short term. In the long term, when the structures are optimally adapted to the new eating habits, the regions that used to specialize in livestock would also benefit from switching to plant-based products. Since a change in diet is associated with various positive effects, this should be promoted with an appropriate policy mix. In any case, farmers are well advised to keep a close eye on trends in eating habits.
Contact: Florian Freund