German agriculture minister presents mandatory labeling plan – EURACTIV.com

According to plans presented by German Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir on Tuesday (June 7), the animal product produced and sold in Germany will soon have to undergo the conditions under which each animal was produced.

Producers will have to introduce the new measures step by step over the next two years.

“Breeding in Germany can only be fit for the future if it respects animal welfare”said Cem Özdemir during a press conference during which he presented a reference document aimed at setting up a nationwide labeling system for farmed animal products.

Already in their coalition agreement, the three ruling parties in the country had set themselves the goal of introducing a mandatory animal welfare label. Shortly after taking office in December, Mr Özdemir then announced that it would be introduced before the end of the year, at least for certain product groups.

According to the Minister, the label should help to make farmers’ investments in animal welfare more visible while providing more transparency for consumers.

Consumers “want to know how the animal they are buying meat from has lived, and they also want to express their expectations for the future with their purchase decision, where possible”underlined the Minister of Agriculture.

Germany currently does not have any state-imposed labels for products of animal origin.

Last year, former agriculture minister, conservative Julia Klöckner’s plan to introduce a state-run but voluntary label failed due to opposition from the Social Democrats (SPD). , the coalition partner at the time, to such a project. At the time, the SPD wanted to introduce a mandatory label instead.

Five breeding levels

Just like eggs, which must bear a number indicating how the laying hens are reared, Mr Özdemir’s draft for products of animal origin provides for an indication “clearly visible” animal living conditions.

Five different types of farming must be distinguished, ranging from indoor farming without outdoor runs and without fresh air to outdoor farming, with organic production constituting a separate category.

Mandatory labeling applies to all foods containing animal products, including processed products, such as frozen pepperoni pizzas or salads prepared with chicken strips.

Products packaged in the supermarket and products at the food counter, in online retail and in the supermarket will also be labelled.

For the time being, however, this is all for the future, because the first step will be to subject only fresh pork sold in the fresh or frozen section to the labeling obligation, which will then be extended.

Ecologists and animal advocates therefore believe that improvements are still possible.

In a statement, Greenpeace clarified that ham, frozen processed products and beef and poultry meat were not targeted at this time.

Moreover, the breeding method which serves as the basis for the label does not give “Possibly no indication of the actual welfare of the animals”explained Martin Hofstetter, Greenpeace expert.

The organization Foodwatch expressed a similar opinion, with Annemarie Botzki, an expert on the group, explaining that the farming method alone “says nothing about the real health of the animals”.

For its part, the Association of German Farmers (the DBV) revealed that the concept presented by Mr Özdemir constituted a “significant first step”but that he still presented “considerable shortcomings”.

As long as no timetable is fixed for the extension of the labeling obligation to processed products and to meat other than pork, “there will be no indicative effect and the concept risks being compromised on the market,” DBV President Joachim Rukwied said in a statement.

Funding, a bone of contention

Farmers’ associations and animal rights activists have also stressed that labeling must be part of a broader concept of restructuring livestock farming.

For example, it must be “accompanied by changes to the building code and a viable long-term financing concept”explained Mr Rukwied, while Mr Hofstetter stressed that the government must provide enough money to finance the restructuring.

However, this labeling is only the first of four elements that the German government wants to implement for the future of animal husbandry, explained Cem Özdemir.

“Agricultural farming in Germany can only have a future if it offers farmers a perspective that also allows them to earn a good income”said the environmental minister.

In addition to a mandatory label, the ministry also wants to present changes to the animal protection law, adjustments to the building code and the permit law and, above all, a financing concept for the long-term conversion of barns into more animal-friendly structures, he continued.

This last point could, however, prove delicate within the coalition. The Liberal Democrats (FDP), for example, recently voiced their opposition to a proposed animal welfare tax on farmed products, and the coalition has yet to come to terms with it. agreement on a funding method.

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