In the German state of Baden-Württemberg, a randomly selected citizens' forum on the future of agriculture presented its final report with concrete recommendations to the state government on 16 January 2023. The citizens' forum is part of the state government's strategy dialogue on agriculture.
The main results include the following points:
- It is important to the citizens that the preservation of regional agriculture goes hand in hand with the development of a more sustainable and biodiversity-promoting agriculture. To this end, the entire value chain is to become more climate-, environment- and animal-friendly, health-promoting, resource-efficient and transparent.
- In order to achieve the goals, the environmental costs of industrial agriculture should be passed on to the product price, and the proceeds should actually reach the farmers. The sustainability of regional food supply should be strengthened and not suffer from increased imports from countries with lower standards and long transport routes.
- In the direction of consumers, the Citizens' Forum would like to see a greater willingness to pay and security of purchase, for example through farm shops or weekly markets. Everyone can take responsibility for their own purchasing behaviour, which has a direct influence on the production and supply structure.
- In the direction of agriculture, the citizens call for better networking and a more intensive dialogue with consumers. They recommend joining forces in marketing associations and making use of innovative marketing opportunities.
- Food retailers are asked to provide more information on regional and sustainable products on the packaging and at the point of sale. In addition, retailers should reduce food waste and create more opportunities for the use of unsold food.
- The Citizens' Forum also sees politics itself as having a duty: It should strengthen the inclusion of regional products in out-of-home food and the awareness of regional seals and ensure a clear definition of sustainability and inclusion in labelling as well as strengthening advertising and public relations for regional products. In addition, the subject area of sustainable agriculture should be integrated more strongly into school education.
18 concrete recommendations for action
In their final report, the approximately 45 random citizens jointly developed and laid down 18 concrete recommendations for action.
It was really remarkable, said State Secretary Florian Hassler, how everyone had worked on such a complex topic area in such a short time and had also already come up with very concrete proposals. "I am sure that the results will be valuable impulses for the individual working groups of the strategy dialogue," emphasised the State Secretary.
"A differentiated picture of opinion"
Barbara Bosch thanked the randomly selected participants of the citizens' forum for their commitment. "With its recommendations for action, the final report provides a differentiated picture of opinion that will now be incorporated into the further political process," said the State Councillor for Civil Society and Citizen Participation: "It is very gratifying that citizen participation is a natural part of important political projects.
In order to involve as many consumers as possible in the process, an online survey had been launched via the state's participation portal in the run-up to the citizens' forum. In the process, about 900 evaluations and comments were compiled in a topic map, which served as a working basis for the citizens' forum.