Imagine you are a milk farmer involved in milk production. Standing in a long line of ancestors whose centre of life has always been passionate farm work. Now it’s your turn. You are well educated and your parents trust in your abilities. But the world has been changing more and even faster than ever before. Climate change threatens traditional and well-established crop production systems, the price for milk is low and the consumers demand a change in how food is produced. Sustainability and regional food production gain in social interest. Today’s story is about Stefanie and Michael Bauer. Two ambitious young minds that dear to jump in at the deep end by investing about 3 million Euro in the future of their farm. A risky but also inspiring way to differentiate oneself from the global milk market and take one’s fate in their own hands.
The couple lives in a dairy farm in Bavaria near the metropolitan area Nuremberg/Fürth. The nearby city limits the ability to grow in a conventional way by cultivating more farmland or keeping more dairy cows. Why not trying to take advantage of this hurdle and solicit for local value chains with nearby customers? No sooner said than done. Stefanie and Michael developed a business plan in order to convince the bank to give them a loan. However, getting started is always difficult but endurance and tenacity assured success. Today the two farmers own a stable for about 60 dairy cows with special focus on animal-welfare of the cows ensured by an animal-friendly system. Furthermore, the produced milk gets processed on farm into delicious yogurt and, of course, ice cream. The energy for the production and for 550 households in the surrounding area derives from their own biogas plant and a photovoltaic system, as a regenerative source of energy.
All products are sold under the brand name “rosa Kuh” which means “pink cow”. A creative and fresh name for cool products. The customer appreciates the product quality and the transparency of the production. Some supermarkets and farm shops in the region offer the product portfolio. Additionally, the availability gets complemented by a vending machine on the farm. Regardless of the time customers can do their purchase. Especially during the Covid-19 crisis, this way of contactless shopping meets the worries of the consumers.
Authors: Claudia Wiese and Bernd Pölling – Fachhochschule Südwestfalen