Announcing the decision in the Bundestag, new federal agriculture minister Cem Özdemir said the labeling system should cover the breeding, breeding, transport and slaughter of livestock.
Özdemir, a Green member of the recently elected coalition government, said the label should be introduced alongside support for a new production system that replaces the current “operating system”. Detailed proposals for the new national label will be unveiled this year.
In particular, the green politician pointed to the difficult financial situation of German farmers. Better animal welfare – which he says will mean fewer animals on the farm – should not have a negative impact on farm incomes, Özdemir argued, insisting that “cheap products” delivered at the expense of producers should no longer be tolerated.
“Improving animal welfare on farms cannot be achieved without cost”,he conceded.
Germany’s pork sector has been hit particularly hard by financial pressures and Özdemir insisted that it is not acceptable for farmers to receive 22 cents of every euro consumers spend on pork at the retail level. “I will not continue to accept the operating system”, noted the Minister of Agriculture, speaking in Berlin.
The rhetoric was welcomed by Germany’s Farmers’ Association, Deutscher Bauernverband, which recognized the urgent need to improve the economic prospects of the country’s farmers while simultaneously shifting to a less environmentally damaging food system.
Joachim Rukwied, chairman of the German Farmers’ Association, said this legislative period would see “many farms” chart a course between “continuing development” and shutting down trade.
“The announcement must now be quickly followed by concrete implementation steps. It is important to ensure the diversity of the agricultural structure in Germany and to avoid structural breaks – the federal government will have to measure up to this,”Rukwied replied
The test, the agriculture advocate continued, will turn political ambition into action quickly enough to provide farmers with the support they need. “The economic situation of many farms is still tense and disastrous for pig farmers. Time is running out here. Farmers are ready to support the conversion of livestock. It is important for the months to come that a practical and reliable method of financing is ensured. A separate financial pot must be created for this. Our farmers now urgently need political decisions so that they can further develop their farms.”
Growing support for animal welfare actions
According to Özdemir, his political efforts are widely popular among German buyers. “The majority wants a change,“, he told the Bundestag.
Indeed, a recent survey conducted by Kantar on behalf of Greenpeace revealed that better farming conditions are supported by 88% of Germans. Mandatory public labeling of farming conditions for “all meat and dairy products” in retail and gastronomy was identified as “particularly important” by 78% of people.
Greenpeace agriculture expert Martin Hofstetter said the result was a call to action for Özdemir to end “massive animal suffering in industrial agriculture”. “Consumers want to know reliably how animals are raised,”said Hofstetter.
Significantly, Greenpeace data shows that German consumers are open to using financial levers to support better animal welfare: 85% of respondents support state support for farmers to improve animal welfare. breeding. They would also agree to pay additional meat and sausage taxes or duties in return.
Greenpeace said Özdemir had “started a debate” about low meat prices and the sector’s impact on environmental goals.
“The consumption of meat and dairy products in Germany causes environmental and climatic damage amounting to around 6 billion euros per year. However, the actual costs are not reflected in the price. And the consumption of animal products is also subsidized with more than 5 billion euros annually because only the reduced VAT rate of 7% is levied on these products. Minister Özdemir has named the problem and must put an end to this paradoxical policy to the detriment of the climate and the environment”,Greenpeace AG expert Matthias Lambrecht argued.
Lambrecht believes that taxation mechanisms should play an important role in providing solutions.
“There is a simple solution: the new federal government should adjust the VAT on meat and dairy products to the normal rate of 19%. In return, it can reduce or completely eliminate VAT on fruit and vegetables. This would relieve consumers and create incentives for more environmentally and climate-friendly consumption of plant-based foods.