German agricultural Minister Cem Özdemir plans to introduce mandatory animal welfare labelling laws on food by the end of 2022. More detailed proposals will be revealed later this year. Cem Özdemir’s plans are based on recommendations laid out by the Borchert Commission on livestock farming reform.
The reforms are set to involve a reduction in the number of animals that can be kept on German farms. He plans to make the state pick up the costs of better livestock welfare conditions by taxing meat and milk products. “If the animal is doing better, then the farmers must also feel it in their wallets,” said the minister. The minister pointed out that the current food supply chain places producers at a disadvantage. “It’s not okay … if the farmer gets just 22 cents of the euro that that customer spends on pork in the shop” he stated.
The prospect of higher food prices to subsidise animal welfare has drawn criticism. “Many consumers are burdened with rising food prices and worry that this spiral will continue, not to mention the burdens caused by the general rate of inflation and the development of energy prices,” said conservative CDU MP Steffen Bilger during the parliamentary debate.
Currently, German supermarkets use their own animal husbandry labelling for meat products. The four-tier system indicates how the animal was reared. However, it starts at the minimum animal welfare standard.
Yet Özdemir has support from the German Farmers’Association Deutscher Bauernverband. The group sees an urgent need for transitioning to a more sustainable food system whilst supporting farmers.
Özdemir is a member of the cabinet in the new German coalition government under Chancellor Olaf Scholz that formed in December 2021. He is a former Green party leader. He contends that improving food quality benefits both farmers and consumers. The minister plans a suite of reforms around nutrition and organic food production. A major aim is to make 30 percent of agricultural production and supermarket foods organic by 2030.