WV Farm Bureau Magazine November 2014 - Page 19

A Glimpse into German Agriculture Susan Wilkins, YF&R Committee Chair In June I learned that I was a 2014 recipient of a McCloy Fellowship in Agriculture. The McCloy Fellowship program began in the 1970s as a way to foster better understanding and relationships between the United States and Germany. Each year, four Germans have swapped sides of the Atlantic with four Americans for twenty one 21days of intense farm visits and policy studies. We arrived in Berlin on September 28th, where we spent four days for our “orientation” with the Deutscher Bauernerband (DBV), the German equivalent of the American Farm Bureau Federation. While in Berlin, we were told of differences we would soon see in the farms around the country, stemming from the history of the Cold War and what used to be East and West Germany. As we traveled throughout East Germany, I picked up on a definite theme on the way Germans see time. Time is neatly divided into two categories – “before the wall came down” and “after the wall came down.” Small family farms did not exist in East Germany before the wall came down because farms were combined into cooperatives by the former German Democratic Republic (GDR) during the Soviet rule. Even today, the farms in that part of the country are quite a bit larger than those in West Germany, with an average size of 538 acres. Farms in West Germany, however, were family farms and as land was handed down to generation to generation they became smaller West Virginia Farm Bureau News 19