The BLE and its Tasks
The Federal Office for Agriculture and Food (BLE) has a variety of tasks in the areas of agriculture, food, nutrition, rural areas, forestry, fisheries and consumer protection. As a central modern service provider it assists its partners in the German federal states, in the economy and within the scope of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL).
Organic farming, biodiversity and world food supplies are important issues related to sustainable agriculture. Within the framework of EU legislation, the BLE takes on various tasks in connection with organic farming, such as the authorisation of inspection bodies for organic products, and of inspectors.
Located at the BLE, the Information and Coordination Centre for Biodiversity (IBV) deals with the genetic resources of relevance for food, agriculture, forestry and fisheries in particular. At international level, the BLE supports the BMEL where general issues regarding international cooperation and global food security are concerned.
The BLE also fulfils various tasks regarding market observation and control. Regular data provided by companies in the fat, cereal, starch, feedstuff, milk and sugar industries are crucial for market observation and reporting in Germany. For that purpose, the BLE provides a reporting procedure.
Nutrition and Food
Quality, transparency and traceability become increasingly important where food is concerned. The BLE supervises the compliance with marketing standards and labelling requirements and carries out special conformity checks on fruit and vegetables.
In addition, the BLE is the authority competent for the accreditation and supervision of beef labelling systems and control firms. It also controls companies in the field of meat classification. And it is active where the registration and control of traditional specialities guaranteed are concerned.
Since the establishment of the EU, the common agricultural policy (CAP) has been one of its most important policy areas. CAP aims to guarantee consumers adequate prices for agricultural products and a fair income for farmers. For that purpose, the EU agricultural market is being organised. The BLE functions as the German market organisation body in the fields of agricultural market and external trade regulations. It fulfils particular tasks relating to the intervention of goods, to private storage and to aid measures.
As the authorising body for the cross-border exchange of goods and services involving products of the food, agriculture, and forestry industries, the BLE issues import and export licences as well as authorisations.
Maintaining rural areas as economically, ecologically and socially viable and attractive habitats, is of central importance to the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) and the European Union. Accordingly, the BLE is also active in the development of rural areas. By means of the German networking unit for rural areas, Vernetzungsstelle Ländliche Räume (DVS), and the Competence Centre for Rural Development, the aims of rural development policies are being implemented and developed further both in Germany and at EU level.
Forest and Timber
The FLEGT action plan intends to contribute to importing only legally harvested wood and products thereof into the EU. Pursuant to the law on legal wood trade (Holzhandels-Sicherungs-Gesetz, HolzSiG), the BLE is responsible for the verification of FLEGT licences. In addition, the BLE performs the tasks of the law on forest propagation material, such as keeping the register on approved basic material and the list of forest seed and forest plant growers.
Where fisheries are concerned, the BLE assures compliance with legal provisions. It manages the national catch quota in coordination with the authorities of other EU member states and is responsible for fishery protection at the national level. Also, on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL), the BLE manages three fishery protection vessels and three fishery research vessels.
Climate and Energy
The federal programme for the promotion of measures to increase energy efficiency in agriculture and horticulture aims at stimulating investment and at practically introducing new, energy efficient technologies. The federal programme office is located at the BLE which performs the national tasks in connection with controls and certification, where the cultivation of regrowing raw materials is concerned. The BLE controls the sustainable growth, use and production of biomass.
Federal Information Centre Agriculture (BZL)
The Federal Centre for Agriculture, BZL, is the neutral and knowledge-based information service provider for the subjects of agriculture, forestry, fisheries, horticulture, special cultures as well as beekeeping and apiculture products. The BZL collects and analyses data and information concerning all aspects of agriculture. Data are prepared for consumers, practitioners and market operators to be communicated via various media, including printed publications, online services and public relations.
Federal Centre for Nutrition (BZfE)
A growing number of people want transparent and neutral information on the subject of nutrition. The BZfE, located at the BLE, was founded to meet that need. The Centre aims to pool and organise information revolving around the issue of food and it wants to be the contact point consumers can turn to with any questions about nutrition.
On behalf of the BMEL, the BLE manages various research projects in the areas of food, agriculture and consumer protection, at technical and organisational level. As a project manager the authority is responsible for the proper implementation of and the technical support for research and innovation projects funded by the BMEL. Various projects exist in the fields of innovation promotion, organic farming, protein plants, model and demonstration projects, forests, rural development, European research matters and world food supplies. Their results are communicated at all levels.
The BLE provides a variety of administrative and IT services. As an administrative services centre the BLE operates mainly for the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) and the institutions within its scope. Administrative services are also provided for other departments. The offer is available to all federal administrative authorities and institutions.