What ware would a bee wear if a bee could wear ware? A simple riff on the old groundhog question?* Ahh, not so fast. Apparently some Bavarians were wearing bee ware last Spring. And at least for their political aspirations – it worked. In Munich a petition was circulated last winter and spring to make sweeping changes to farming practices in Bavaria.
How can this be relevant to Gulliver’s Pulse? I’m an American. My parents, grandparents, and all my great-grandparents were Americans. But if I trace back any further European born individuals start popping up in the mix. Most of these were German. Many of the German members of the family tree were from Bavaria. So now some very distant cousins are likely wrapped up in the bee friendly business of trying to farm in Bavaria. If they’re anything like their American cousins, I imagine some are fine with it, and others… not so much.
According to an article in the National Geographic, one of the new directives for Bavarian farmers is that meadows may no longer be mowed from the outside in. The logic here – meadow creatures might be trapped in the middle. I’ve mowed a field or two in my life. The little critters (voles, mostly… and the occasional frog or toad) will scatter across freshly mowed ground to make their escape. No problem. What about little nestlings unable to make their escape? Well – they wouldn’t be spared by any direction of mowing.
An article in the German news outlet The Local lists a few of the other changes coming for Bavarian farmers:
The petition has outlined three primary improvements targeted at Bavaria’s lucrative farming sector.
Firstly it seeks to increase the percentage of land farmed organically from the current ten percent to 30 percent. [this transition to take place over the next eleven years]
The second demand is that farmers be made more responsible for changing their farms to make them more ‘bee friendly’.
This includes creating more non-farmed meadows that are suitable for bees and mowing their grasses later in the year. The organizers have also called for wider margins to be left on streams and creeks, which are natural bee habitats.
Finally, the petition calls for farmers’ environmental compliance to be made compulsory. Currently, farmers are encouraged to make environmentally-beneficial changes on a voluntary basis and are provided financial reward for doing so. In total, €275 million per year is invested into this program.
It might be worth mentioning that Oktoberfest is right now in full swing. Perhaps those distant cousins of mine are celebrating sufficiently to overlook any difficulty looming on the horizon due to the changes being forced on them. Time will tell.
There are certainly many good ideas at play in the new law. One can hope the good ideas are implemented straight away, and the more questionable directives can be softened or improved through negotiation. It helps no one if Bavarian farmers are placed at a serious competitive disadvantage in the European ag marketplace in order to placate neighbors with no skin in the game.
* The groundhog question: How much wood would a woodchuck chuck – if a woodchuck could chuck wood?