Mining plays a small role in the modern German economy. Hard coal deposits have been mined in the Ruhr area and the Saarland. Brown coal, also known as lignite, was mined in the foothills of the Harz Mountains; near Cologne; in southeastern Brandenburg; and in central Germany. However, brown coal causes massive environmental problems, and its extraction is controversial. The German government plans to phase out subsidies to the coal industry by 2018. Many coal mines have shut down as a result. Iron ore production had declined in West Germany by the mid-1980s because it could be imported more inexpensively than producing it locally. Germany’s potash salts industry ranks as one of the largest exporters of potash-based fertilizers in the world. The deposits are located mostly in Thüringen in central Germany.
Farming is of limited importance to Germany’s economy. The nation’s principal crops are wheat, potatoes, sugar beets, and barley. The fruit industry is also significant, producing apples and grapes, some of which are used to make Germany’s famous wines. In addition, farmers raise livestock, including hogs, cattle, sheep, and poultry.
German unification demonstrated the economic superiority of well-managed small and medium-sized farms in the West over the collective and cooperative giant farms of East Germany. The latter proved inadequate to the tasks of marketing and meeting refined consumer demands, and they generated a great deal of air and water pollution. They also failed to inspire desire in their cooperative farmers to take back and maintain their own original farm properties once the collectives were broken up. Today, Germany imports much of its food. "Germany" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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