Berlin (dpa) – Cem Özdemir is a vegetarian – but the Minister of Agriculture does not want to spoil the meat consumption of Germans. “I want good meat from Germany to be on our tables tomorrow,” says the Greens politician.
In his opinion, however, animal husbandry in Germany only has a future if it is oriented towards climate protection and animal welfare. After several failed attempts, Özdemir is making a new attempt to equip meat products in Germany with a mandatory state animal husbandry label.
The pillars presented by him contemplate a five-stage model. This should allow consumers to see how much space the animals had during fattening and how comfortable their stalls were. In the case of the “stable” form of housing, only the minimum legal requirements are met. With “Stall+Platz” the animals get 20 percent more space, the “outdoor stalls” are open on at least one side, with “Auslauf/Freiland” the animals can go outside for at least eight hours a day, and the “bio” type of breeding means larger exercise areas and even more space in the barn.
The bill should be in the Bundestag before the end of the year
Özdemir would like to coordinate the corresponding bill with the other ministries before the summer break so that it can reach the Bundestag before the end of the year. Over the course of the next year, the attitude brand will be introduced. It will then be mandatory for food products of animal origin that are sold in Germany and for which the animals were kept in Germany. However, the labeling obligation initially only applies to fresh pork. Other products will come later.
Barn conversion financing and follow-up costs
The SPD, the Greens and the FDP had already agreed in the coalition agreement to introduce state labeling of animal husbandry. However, the Traffic Light Alliance is discussing the question of how farmers can be supported with barn conversion and follow-on costs. A sum of €1 billion is planned as seed funding in the federal budget until 2026. “That’s a good start, but it’s not enough,” admitted Özdemir. There is a need for clarification in the coalition for additional funding.
A commission of experts had developed proposals such as a higher VAT or an “animal welfare tax” on products of animal origin. A surcharge of 40 cents per kilogram of meat is conceivable. However, the FDP made it clear that it rejects such price increases, especially in view of inflation. Without adopting any of the suggestions, Özdemir pointed out that there are different funding models. “If you say no to everyone, then you also say no to animal husbandry in Germany.” Green Party leader Ricarda Lang is pushing for an early deal in the coalition.
Much criticism and opposition.
Problems threaten not only in the stoplight alliance. The opposition points out that for years there has been voluntary labeling of pork, beef and poultry in supermarkets. Therefore, the AfD considers the project superfluous. In contrast, the German Farmers’ Association speaks of an important first step, but sees considerable gaps: without a binding timetable for the inclusion of beef and poultry, “there would be no steering effect”, warned the Farmers President Joachim Rukwied.
The planned label doesn’t go far enough for environmental and animal rights activists. “A label that only looks at the way it is raised is misleading and hides the crucial issues,” said Annemarie Botzki of the consumer organization Foodwatch. Livestock farming in its current form causes animals to suffer from chronic diseases. Greenpeace agriculture expert Martin Hofstetter complained: “Aspects such as transportation, slaughter or animal health are not taken into account at all.”
And on the part of the coalition partner FDP, there is not only criticism of the financing, but also of the design of the parenting methods. “Contrary to the minister’s statements, there is no agreement on the detailed issues, but numerous open points,” emphasized the spokesman for agricultural policy of the FDP parliamentary group, Gero Hocker. But Özdemir leaves no doubt that the plan will go through the cabinet and the Bundestag in the coming months. “We have waited long enough in Germany,” the minister emphasized. “The label is coming.”