Saturday, October 8, 2011

Day 14 - Saturday, October 8

We started the day going to RWZ, a implement dealer who is the third largest cooperative in Germany.  They are a very diversified company that does everything from selling tractors and combines, to retail of feed and machinery parts to suppling everything you'd need to start a vineyard or small garden.  They are one of the largest employers in Rhineland with 2,600 employees.  Over 70,000 farmers and vineyards epend on RWZ for products, services and repairs. The company is very diversified with 9% in machinery and repair, 13% in potatoe production, 21% in energy products and logistics and 19% cereal crops. They trade products and services through all Europe and Russia.  RWZ has three animal feed production stations in Rhineland that mixes 2 million tons annually, they can supply all needs for vineyards and 70% of the vineyards (15,000) are serviced by them.
They have two growing markets, a retail garden supply are and the energy sector, they supply oil, fuel and chipped wood for burning, which is a growing sector of the energy market.
They are responsible for 60% of the tractor business in sales, service and repairs, 200 € million annually.  The main brands they sell are Fendt, Claas and Massey Ferguson which in terms of the German tractor market is: 25% Fendt, 16% Deere, 10% Claas tractors and 5% Massey Ferguson.  The combine market share is 47% Claas, 16.9% Deere, 9.8% NH and 8% Fendt.
The tractors have larger tires than you'd typically see in the U.S. and buy law can only be up to 3 meters wide, if they are 3 to 3.5 meters wide they must have warning car escort while on the road and if over 3.5 meters they must be escorted by the police.
We then visited the Genn family's diversified farm with 100 head of bulls, 125 hectacres of farmland and several small business that service the local horse owners.  Their bull raising facility would be similar to our feedlots, however they feed bulls rather than steers.  They are on a yield system, growing Limousin and Piedmontese cattle, selling them to three local butchers.  Mr. Genn has two sons who are currently studying and wish to return to the farm.  This past year they have begun construction on a new barn to increase their beef production.  They showed us the passport system for animal ID and the certifications required to transport livestock to the butchers they supply with beef.  They are very proud of their farm and that it is a family operation.
We then did some sightseeing at Eltz Castle, a medieval castle nestled in the hills above the Moselle River. It is still owned by a branch of the same family that lived there in the 12th century, 33 generations ago. The Castle of Eltz is one of a few castles that have never been destroyed banks of the Rhine in Rhineland-Palatinate.  We toured the castle getting to see the treasure rooms, gold and armory.
Finally, we went to the Franzen vineyard along the Moselle river.  The vineyard is known as the “steepest vineyard in Europe" with a slope of 65 degrees.  We were shown the difficult task for the winemakers to cultivate the vines in such an area and ran into the Moselle area wine queen.  We also got to try the fruits of their labor with a wine tasting of the various white wines the family produces.  They invited us for a light dinner of meats, cheeses, bread and fruit with the outstanding wine. 

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