“Let young people call the shots!”

Dr Antje Eckel on a panel discussion on transformation in agriculture – First innovation workshop to be held in Celle Castle


Climate change, supply chain security, consumer rights and alternative nutrition trends are all pressing issues that businesses in the agricultural sector face today. These represent both challenges and opportunities, and much depends on how well-prepared for the coming changes and upheavals the agropolitical infrastructure is. What is needed to achieve this preparedness and how the sector must approach change were the topics addressed at the ‘Zukunftswerkstatt Land- und Ernährungswirtschaft 2022’ (Innovation Workshop for the Agricultural and Food Sectors 2022). A total of 250 scientists, industry experts, businesses and producers attended the event, which was also available via a live stream.

In his keynote address, German Agricultural Society (DLG) President Hubertus Paetow called for the key factors to be distilled from the current situation and to be transformed into something positive for the future. It is critical that innovation really creates value for the producers, because that is where it is needed most. The manner in which this can be done and the requirements for companies and politicians to do so were discussed by Dr Antje Eckel, founder and CEO of Dr. Eckel Animal Nutrition, Markus Iken, managing director of SAATEN-UNION, and Sven Guericke, chairman of Agrar- und Ernährungsforum Oldenburger Münsterland e.V., in the ‘Action’ session moderated by Matthias Schulze Steinmann, editor-in-chief of topagrar.

It is times of crisis in particular that can represent a great opportunity for companies, because they necessitate action and thus enable change at a speed that is hardly achievable at the best of times. Antje Eckel explained why this is a good thing and how best to deal with it as a company. When under pressure, one no longer has the time to think long and hard about what might be working well after all and whether it could indeed keep on working so for a while longer. It is not about not making mistakes. On the contrary, “It’s about making mistakes in quick succession and learning from them.” We have to learn to like change. Getting comfortable has long ceased to be an option. This attitude only serves to slow things down and cause harm in the long term. It is high time that we bid it farewell.

According to Antje Eckel, the younger generation should step up and take centre stage. In contrast to the ‘decision makers’ who are in their 50s and generally occupy important positions, they have little experience and therefore cannot conceive of their limitations. “We now need to have these young people on committees, on podiums, so that they can introduce their ideas and implement them.”

Ulrich Schmidt, managing director of Marketinggesellschaft der niedersächsischen Land- und Ernährungswirtschaft e. V., concluded the event with an appeal to politicians to create an infrastructure that would allow research and development to operate freely in order to remain competitive internationally. There are still too many restrictions here that prevent or delay important innovations. With this, Schmidt opened the Lower Saxony evening event, which took place outdoors in glorious weather against a backdrop of the magnificent castle. The crowning glory of a successful event.


Relive the “Zukunftswerkstatt” on YouTube here!

Antje Eckel on future nutrition and the role of animal welfare