A fully automated harvester harvests organic beans from a field near Gross Lobke, Germany, 28 August 2014.
Julian Stratenschulte/picture alliance—Getty Images
March 11, 2022 10:40 AM EST

Germany wants to roll back some environmental policies in order to boost domestic crop production as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine threatens global grain and oilseed supplies.

The country will allow farmers to sow crops for feed in previously ecologically protected areas, and will step up its strategy to increase the competitiveness of domestic, protein-rich legumes such as peas and broad beans, the German agriculture ministry said. The measures should help meet regional feed demand, cushion the impact of farmers’ surging input costs and ensure self-sufficiency.

“Putin’s war against Ukraine shows us the vulnerable points of our agricultural system,” Agriculture Minister Cem Oezdemir said in Friday’s statement. “Our measures are therefore aimed at providing rapid assistance—and at making agriculture as a whole less vulnerable to crises.”

The European Union is a major importer of corn, which is often used in feed, and more than half of its supplies this season came from Ukraine. Member states are now scrambling for grains elsewhere, as the war threatens to decimate Ukrainian crops and exports, with farmers unable to access fields.

Germany’s environmentally protected areas once off-limits for farming were spread over about 1.2 million hectares (3 million acres) as of 2021.

Other measures announced by the ministry include streamlining bureaucracy in programs that promote renewable energy in agriculture. The country will also help with animal-friendly feeding in organic farming, which is set to be among the worst hit by a loss of feed imports from Ukraine.

Germany is also mounting a push against food protectionism as part of its presidency this year of the Group of Seven nations.

—With assistance from Iain Rogers.

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