Saturday, October 8, 2011

Day 13 - Friday, October 7

We packed our bags this morning and met up with Stephen Gersteuer the General Secretary (Executive) for the Schleswig-Holstein farmer's association.  The association recently moved into a new office overlooking the Kiel Canal that connects the North Sea with the Baltic Sea.  It is the most used canal in the world by the number of ships that pass through.  The office is in the association agricenter where many ag groups are in one location, including the regulatory government.  Also nearby is the Deula, the agricultural training and education center.  It is similar to extension but with more hands on training, like equipment demonstrations.
The farmers association is political lobby for the state's agriculture and also offers services such as legal, social and insurance counseling.  They are similar in volunteer governance to CFB with a state president, two vice presidents and 6 additional members on what they consider and Executive Committee. The structure is replicated through the county, district and community levels.  The association has 21,000 farmers; 11,000 active and 10,000 retired.
In Schleswig-Holstein 63% of total land is agricultural use with most arable land cultivated for wheat and canola, 32% grasslands.  They raise 9.5 ton/ha of wheat and 4.68 ton/ha of rapseed (rapeseed, canola). In SH there are 1.1 million cattle, many are dairy cattle; and while numbers are declining milk production is increasing.
The association and its members feel the difference is becoming greater between farms and cities who do not understand modern agriculture.  They feel that most consumers want a vision of agriculture of past times.  They are also concerned about the emotionallevel of politics in SH and German; such as phasing out nuclear power when people are afraid after the tsunami at Fukushima, Japan.  They would like to fight emotional politics with real information and feel people will see the importance of agriculture and being self-sufficient over the long term.
We then toured the Kiel Canal Railway Bridge; the bridge is over the Kiel Canal which was first built in 1887.  The canal was dedicated by Kaiser Wilhelm II and upon the dedication, he named it after his grandfather Kaiser Wilhelm, which cause great controversy as the canal had been named and referred to during contstruction as the Kiel canal.  Following WWII the name Kiel Canal was brought back and that is how its referred to today.  The bridge was constructed in 1913, is about 4.5 kilometers in total (295 m bridge).  Because of the closeness of the Renssburg train station a special loop in the track had to be built to lead up to the bridge that is 42 meters above the canal.  There are 3.2 million rivets and 240,000 square meters of space that is painted.
We stoped by the post office to mail some packages home and left the Rendsburg train station in the early afternoon.  We will travel through Hamburg, change trains in Cologne and arrive in Koblenz at 8:12 this evening.

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