SOCIALLY BENEFICIAL AGRICULTURE’S (SBA) INVOLVEMENT WITH HØJVANG ØKOLOGI
Højvang Økologi became a case in Socially Beneficial Agricul-ture. Organic Denmark prepared an estimate of all the income and expenses associated with the nature conservation. This showed that Højvang Økologi could achieve a positive financial result with its nature conservation concept without the need for subsidies for nature conservation if the meat were sold at a higher, but not unrealistic, price. The challenge was therefore to develop a concept for selling at a higher price, which should be based on documentation for more nature with greater bio-diversity.
SBA financed a nature plan, which described the goals of the nature conservation. It was followed up by documentation that the goals were achievable.
Højvang Økologi wanted to establish direct sale of meat in packs consisting of 1/8 of a steer. A chef was brought in to pro-mote the meat quality and to provide guidance on how to use the meat. Intro evenings were arranged for interested citizens. A website was developed for sales via subscription, and com-munication took place on social media.
Højvang Økologi would like to enter into agreements based on a subscription scheme with customers/citizens on the sale of meat from animals grazing nature areas and thereby creating a more biodiverse nature. In order to achieve the necessary high-er price for the meat from these animals, an agreement was made with customers that a nature plan and follow-up on the goals of the plan would be used to document the improved bi-odiversity resulting from the nature conservation.
Agreements were entered into between animal farmers and lessees and between lessees and landowners.
A calculation was prepared that made it possible to deter-mine how the agreement between the animal farmers and the landowners/lessees could be balanced so as to consider the interests of all parties. There are costs associated with na-ture conservation. According to the calculation, in a situation where a higher price is not charged, the animal farmers should receive part of the nature conservation subsidies paid to the lessees. However, the lessee uses these funds to lease the from the landowner. This practice is a widespread challenge within nature conservation, as the financial situation does not really support engaging in nature conservation.
From the calculation, it can be seen that Højvang Økologi’s business model could work without a share of the nature con-servation subsidies if the meat were sold at a higher price. The challenge is to establish stable sales at this higher price.
EXPERIENCE AND LEARNING
Under the current subsidy rules for nature conservation, it is the landowner/lessee who receives the subsidies for nature conservation. This case shows that a financial gap must exist between the leasing fee and the conservation subsidies in or-der to also compensate the animal farmers for the nature conservation.
The Danish Agricultural Agency should develop rules for the nature conservation, e.g. requiring nature plans for all areas re-ceiving subsidies for nature conservation. This can ensure that the nature conservation promotes nature and biodiversity.
It may be advantageous to organise animal husbandry and nature conservation into a separate company, as the animal farmers have many tasks which are different from those of the milk producers.
Animal husbandry and nature conservation must be devel-oped as meat is sold. The sales require a specific initiative, which often is not in-cluded in the business model. It is advisable to ensure sales by involving citizens in nature conservation associations/whole-sale societies which prepay for the meat, or in grazing guilds which make binding sales to the participants. Fixed agree-ments with butchers and restaurants are also a possibility.
• Højvang Økologi has 100 dairy cows. All calve at the same time in May.
• All bull calves are castrated.
• When the production of a cow drops, she is put to graze as a wet nurse for the calves, which are then weaned after the first summer on grass.
• The natural areas being tended are owned by the state but leased to a third party, which saw a business in leasing the land in exchange for nature conservation subsidies.
• Højvang Økologi does not receive nature conservation subsidies and tends the area without quid pro quo.