Animal husbandry Merkel for regional slaughter structures

by Henrike Schirmacher
Saturday, July 04, 2020
 Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) wants to preserve livestock farming in Germany.
Photo: imago images / Eibner
Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) wants to preserve livestock farming in Germany.

Several CDU politicians are advocating a process of restructuring animal husbandry. Chancellor Merkel describes the concentration in the slaughter industry as a problem for farmers.
Chancellor Angela Merkel has made a commitment to livestock farming in Germany. "We want animal husbandry, but on reasonable terms", she said during the government questioning in the Bundestag this week. This restructuring process will take several years, she said. Merkel reaffirmed the government's goal of banning work contracts in large slaughterhouses. She said that they had been exploited in "sub-sub-sub-sub-contracting" in such a way "that it is no longer justifiable". This would increase the costs in industrial companies, so that the competitive conditions for smaller slaughter companies could improve. The Chancellor described the high concentration on the consumer side as a "big problem for the farmers".

The Chancellor is thus backing a key points paper for the restructuring process in animal husbandry, which both the Lower Saxony and the North Rhine-Westphalian Ministers of Agriculture, Barbara Otte-Kinast (CDU) and Ursula Heinen-Esser (CDU), had adopted together with the Federal Minister of Agriculture, Julia Klöckner (CDU). "We will take on the task of improving the promotion of regional production, processing and marketing structures in the meat sector", the three politicians stated in the document. With this aim, they wanted to meet consumers' desire for regional products and also strengthen the crisis-proof nature of domestic meat production.

Chancellor for Borchert's recommendations

Merkel also expressly acknowledged the work of the Borchert Commission. Its proposals for a restructuring of livestock farming in Germany showed "that more common ground is possible than we thought". Many farmers are prepared to make changes, she said. This must be supported, she said. The Chancellor is hoping for a decision on the caging of sows on Friday in the Bundesrat, "so that the conversion process can get underway".
Klöckner (CDU) wants to finance the conversion of animal husbandry by means of an animal welfare levy on meat and meat processing products, as recommended by the Borchert Commission. However, it must first have it examined whether this is possible under European law.

The head of department expects German meat to become about 40 cents more expensive per kilo. The money is to go into a fund to which neither the trade nor slaughterhouses have access. Farmers could apply for money from it, for example to invest in more spacious stables, a spokeswoman for the Federal Ministry of Agriculture (BMEL) told agrarzeitung.de. However, Klöckner does not share the proposal of the Borchert Commission to increase value added tax. A part of this tax would benefit the federal states. This does not automatically mean that the money for stable conversions is tied up, the BMEL explained.

In order to finance the reorientation, there should be a state conversion and retention premium in addition to the animal welfare levy, analogous to organic farming, for conversion to more animal welfare, Otte-Kinast, Heinen-Esser and Klöckner also state in the key points paper for the conversion process.

BMEL: conversion process takes several years

However, a BMEL spokeswoman admitted to agrarzeitung.de that "cross-party consensus is important" on the future orientation of animal husbandry. This project towards a "social contract" could not be achieved in one legislative period.

Klöckner in favour of extending origin labelling

Up to now, Klöckner has always been reluctant to expand origin marking. Now it is striking a completely new tone: "It is important that the origin can be recognised better," said Klöckner. This too is now on the agenda of the German Council Presidency. "I am in favor of making it possible to recognize where something comes from in canteens and in the catering trade."


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