There are two ways to narrate the history of agriculture in modern Western countries, including Germany. The first — and better-known — could be called the story of decline: between 1850 and today the percentage of the workforce employed in agriculture dropped from fifty-five to two; and the sector’s contribution to Germany’s gross domestic product fell from 6 per cent in 1960 to roughly 1 per cent today.1 By and large, the economic, social and political leverage of agriculture shrank, initially during the course of industrialization and later during the transformation to a service society; it became Western societies’ sacrifice on the altar of modernity. What remained is a highly subsidized sector with a problematic output. Until recently, it has produced surpluses which are then either destroyed or sold to less developed countries, putting farmers there out of business. Also, agriculture...

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