BERLIN (dpa-AFX) – After years of discussions, a new attempt is made to state labeling of meat and cold cuts in animal husbandry. Federal Agriculture Minister Cem zdemir (the Greens) wants on Tuesday at 11.00 to present the foundations of the system, which is to provide supermarket customers with greater transparency of conditions at the stalls. The traffic light coalition agreed on mandatory labeling to promote change towards greater animal welfare. At the same time, safe financing is to be organized, so that farmers do not have billions of euros left for investments and additional expenses.
New designation: zdemir wants to introduce legal regulations this year. In particular, there is to be a system that distinguishes and displays several types of breeding – the scope ranges from the minimum legal requirements, to more space and exercise material in the stable, to outdoor and organic exercise. In the first step, labeling should start with the pork.
Top dog: Many customers are already familiar with similar logos on the packages, but they are not regulated by the state. From 2019, supermarket chains are marked with the imprint “Hungry”, which includes pork, poultry and beef. It has four levels: from the legal standard of Level 1 “Barn House”, to Level 2 “Barn House Plus” and Level 3 “Outdoor Climate”, to Level 4 “Premium” with outdoor exercise, which also includes organic meat. This marking should also apply for some time in parallel to the national marking, especially as it already exists for several animal species.
Background: How exactly the status logo should look is still open. It is clear that we are now dealing with a different approach to that which has long been discussed, namely compulsory labeling for all forms of farming – instead of a voluntary stamp only for better forms of farming. More recently, Zemir’s predecessor, Julia Klckner (CDU), wanted to display such an animal welfare logo on shelves with requirements that exceeded legal standards. But the plans have failed.
Design: Planned labeling should enable customers to reliably observe how animals were once kept. This transparency should also enable a more informed purchasing decision. It is similar with eggs, which are assigned a numerical code denoting the type of rearing – from 0 for organic rearing to 3 for cage rearing. The labeling of meat in trade is numbered 1 to 4 for four different levels on the labels and the corresponding colors: red, light blue, orange and green.
Financing: Secure financing must be considered so that farmers are not left alone with investments in barn conversion and higher operating costs. As recommended by the expert committee, a higher VAT rate or “animal welfare tax” on animal products is under discussion. One can imagine a surcharge of 40 cents per kilogram of meat. However, the coalition has recently collapsed. The FDP made it clear that it was rejecting consumer price subsidies due to the current high level of inflation.
Coalition partner: From the point of view of the agricultural policy spokesman of the parliamentary group FDP Gero Hocker, the already known proposals “should only be understood as the first working basis”. In order to really provide consumers with greater transparency and to clearly help promote animal welfare through their purchasing behavior, the breeding label needs to be based on labels that are already in the store. “Thanks to the dogmatic emphasis on an additional level for organic products, where farming is often worse than in conventional stables, the Ministry of Agriculture is threatening the project to fail through customer policy.”
Critics: Environmental and consumer advocates complain that animal protection is too low. “The criteria for the new legal livestock label are not sufficient to substantially improve animal welfare,” said Greenpeace expert Martin Hofstetter of the Funke media group. The new marking only specifies the forms of rearing pigs in stables, from which fresh meat is obtained and which is sold in the circulation of food. Foodwatch also calls for stricter criteria: “Numerous studies show that in all forms of farming – from small crates to organic farms – many animals suffer from disease and injury,” said managing director Chris Methmann./sam/DP/zb