German agriculture minister to introduce mandatory animal welfare label – EURACTIV.com

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In his first government statement to the German Federal Parliament on Friday 14 January, Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir announced his intention to introduce compulsory livestock labeling by the end of the year. EURACTIV Germany Reports.

“Stables are not storage areas,” Özdemir said in his presentation, adding that low producer prices, especially in the pork market, are a “shame”. However, agriculture must be supported financially in the transition to greater animal welfare, he stressed.

To ensure that the switch to better farming conditions becomes profitable for farms, Özdemir wants to rely, among other things, on the proposals of the so-called Borchert Commission.

The group of experts leading the commission, which was to develop concepts for the restructuring of animal husbandry, was appointed in 2019 by the then Minister of Agriculture, Julia Klöckner.

In order to be able to bear the costs incurred – for example, in the conversion of stables – the Borchert Commission proposed an animal welfare tax on products such as meat or milk.

However, critics were quick to point out that Özdemir’s plans risked overburdening consumers with higher food prices.

Food prices in debate

“Many consumers are burdened by rising food prices and fear that this spiral will continue, not to mention the burdens caused by the general rate of inflation and the evolution of energy prices,” said the Conservative CDU MP Steffen Bilger during the parliamentary debate.

Özdemir had already sparked a public debate in December after speaking out in favor of higher food prices.

Producers and consumers should not be pitted against each other, Özdemir said in his speech, adding that “food policy is also social policy”.

To improve the nutritional quality of low-income people, for example, the menu of canteens and canteens should be healthier and more regional, he added.

Beyond this, the Minister also wants to focus on nutrition policy, announcing his intention to immediately develop a nutrition strategy to reduce the sugar, fat and salt content of products, as well as food waste.

On arable farming, Özdemir pledged in his government statement to meet the target of 30% organic farming by 2030, set by the traffic light parties of the Social Democratic SPD, Greens and the liberal FDP in their coalition agreement.

This should not only apply to farmland, he added: 30% of the products on supermarket shelves must also come from organic farming.

“It is right that organic farming remains our agricultural guideline: less pesticides, less fertilizers and more nature,” the minister said.

Agriculture “at the center” for climate protection

Özdemir’s Green Party colleague, Environment Minister Steffi Lemke, is also pushing for pesticide reduction.

“We need an agricultural shift […] which reduces inputs of pesticides and nitrates into ecosystems,” Lemke said in his first government statement on Wednesday, adding that in nature reserves the use of synthetic pesticides should be reduced to zero if possible.

Lemke also spoke out in favor of strengthening climate protection and adaptation to climate impacts in agriculture, saying the government is committed to taking better precautions against climate damage caused by drought, heat or heavy rain.

Last year, floods in parts of western Germany led, among other things, to crop failures and the destruction of stored food raw materials.

Agriculture and forestry are “at the center of attention” when it comes to tackling the climate crisis, Özdemir also said in his speech, announcing his intention to exploit the potential for carbon storage in both sectors , for example through the protection of peatlands or the targeted growth of humus. .

The promotion of low-carbon agriculture is also one of the priorities of the current French Presidency of the Council of EU Agriculture Ministers.

Özdemir’s announcements were widely welcomed by stakeholders. The minister announced “an ambitious and urgent transformation of agriculture”, said Jörg-Andreas Krüger, president of the nature conservation organization NABU, adding that implementing the plans will require the cooperation of all ministries .

The German Farmers’ Association (DBV) welcomed Özdemir’s announcement that he would “improve the economic prospects of farms and shape the transformation together with farmers”. Now, concrete implementation steps must urgently follow, said DBV Chairman Joachim Rukwied.

[Edited by Nathalie Weatherald]

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