Stricter rules on fields and in stables, better labeling of food, more organic farming: Farmers and consumers will be faced with a series of changes in the next few years – at least if the responsible ministries have their way. Environment Minister Steffi Lemke and Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir (both Green) outlined the direction on Tuesday at an agricultural congress in Berlin. “Agriculture is facing far-reaching changes,” said Lemke. In the future, subsidies would have to flow according to different criteria than before.
In previous governments, the two houses were reliably crossed. In the grand coalition, they argued about the protection of insects, water bodies and moors, as well as the use of fertilizers and pesticides. That should be over now. “We’re putting an end to a particularly nonsensical form of wasting energy,” Özdemir announced. “The fact that we wasted our energies in the departmental tug-of-war is now a thing of the past.” Lemke spoke of a “strategic alliance” between the two ministries.
There is preliminary work. The previous government had set up a “Future Commission” that sought to balance the interests of farmers, consumers and environmentalists. According to this, farmers should provide more ecological services for society, but also be appropriately remunerated for them. Independently of this, a commission chaired by the former CDU Minister of Agriculture Jochen Borchert investigated how more animal welfare can be organized in the stables without the farmers falling behind in international competition. She formulated the idea of an “animal welfare levy” through which consumers should be involved in the animal-friendly conversion of the stables.
Both commissions initially had no consequences, but Özdemir and Lemke now want to take up their results. For example, Özdemir announced that the labeling would be binding before the end of this year, giving consumers information about animal husbandry standards. The aim must be to end the “overexploitation” of animals. However, the farmers need support for this. “An improvement in animal welfare does not come for free,” he said. However, the majority of consumers also want a change.
Lemke, on the other hand, wants to present an “action program for natural climate protection” by Easter. Among other things, the rewetting of moors should play a role. Almost seven percent of Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions are due to drained moors – often in order to farm on the soil thus obtained. The aim must be that farmers also benefit from the protection of the moors, said the Green Party. All in all, subsidies should be linked more closely to benefits for nature and the environment in the future.