Germany

Common position on the restructuring of animal husbandry in Germany

Joint position paper by: German Raiffeisen Association eV, Federal Association of Cattle and Pigs eV, Interest Group of Pig Keepers in Germany eV, German Farmers' Association and Central Association of the German Poultry Industry eV.

Posted on Jan 21 ,00:05

Common position on the restructuring of animal husbandry in Germany

The restructuring of animal husbandry is a central challenge for the agricultural and food industry, socially, economically and ecologically. With the proposals of the so-called Borchert Commission, a comprehensive overall concept for the restructuring of animal husbandry was presented in 2020, which shows farmers a realistic perspective for the upcoming investments in animal welfare. 

The associations continue to emphatically support the proposals of the Borchert Commission. 

The essential economic importance of livestock farming in Germany requires prudent and responsible political action. 

However, the draft laws and cornerstones from the federal government that are now available do not do justice to the Borchert Commission's claim to an overall concept, which was developed with the involvement of science, among other things. The Federal Government does not pay sufficient attention to the market mechanisms and the competitive situation in the European internal market. This means that no planning horizon can be created for the necessary investments in the conversion of animal husbandry: 

  • The draft of the Animal Husbandry Labeling Act has significant gaps and serious weaknesses, so that the desired steering effect is missed, and is even thwarted in part. Above all, the lack of integration of key areas at all stages of the value chain is critical. There is no timeline for further development of labeling beyond fresh pork meat. Particularly serious is the lack of a reliable control concept for foreign participants and the lack of compatibility with established economic systems, which triggers additional bureaucracy. In addition, there are logistical difficulties, for example due to a lack of downgrading options and batch formation. 

Animal husbandry labeling must be introduced consistently and practically at all stages of meat production and processing! 

  • The draft bill to amend the building code is insufficient to really advance the conversion to animal welfare stables. Since there are far-reaching changes to the stables with regard to the outdoor climate and exercise area, there must be simplified change permits. In addition to adjustments in building law, this also includes simplifications in immission control law. Corresponding proposals from industry have been made and must now be acted upon. 

The legislature must decide on an "animal welfare improvement permit" in which the goals of animal welfare and immission control are solved together! 

  • The financing for the conversion of the animal husbandry is insufficient. Only 1 billion euros for 4 years instead of the 4 billion euros per year considered necessary by the Borchert Commission is clearly too low. Additional federal funding is required. 

A secure and significantly higher financing of animal welfare investments is essential! 

  • The upper limits specified in the key issues paper for federal funding for the conversion of animal husbandry with regard to the funding amounts, the funding rates and the number of animals per farm are completely inadequate in relation to the challenge of a comprehensive conversion. For example, the subsidy should be limited to a maximum of 200 sows or 3,000 fattening pigs sold per year. As a result, the majority of animal husbandry would be excluded from animal welfare promotion from the outset, which is unacceptable. 

The promotion of animal welfare must reach the breadth of livestock farms! 

  • The key issues papers presented on minimum requirements in poultry farming catapult above all the German turkey farmers out of the competition in the EU internal market simply because of the space requirements that are far above the EU average. This is a departure from the basic consensus of the Borchert Commission and the Future Commission on Agriculture, namely to avoid crowding out domestic animal husbandry through import pressure. 

German poultry farming is only competitive in the EU internal market if the same standards apply across the EU. 

The associations again offer their cooperation in the individual steps of the conversion process. However, talks by the BMEL on the complex issues have recently only taken place occasionally. That doesn't do justice to the size of the task. 

What is needed is a partnership between the public sector and business! 

With the Animal Welfare Initiative, among other things, the industry has shown that it can take up and successfully implement extended animal welfare requirements. The competent Borchert Commission must also be heard and involved more. 

The industry is very concerned that instead of a conversion, there will be a politically launched structural break in the German processing industry. As a result, instead of more animal welfare in Germany, the result would be more meat imports at lower standards and so, less food security and a higher environmental and climate burden. But it was the basic consensus of the Borchert Commission to avoid exactly this. Instead of implementing this generally accepted concept in its entirety, it is being fragmented and distorted. This not only makes it ineffective, but above all robs the animal owners of any prospects for the future. 

The associations are urging Federal Minister Özdemir and the government coalition to design the regulations and subsidies mentioned in such a way that they actually initiate a conversion of animal husbandry towards more animal welfare and not a cold reduction. 

This also includes the European perspective: the federal government must take the initiative in the EU for labeling of husbandry and origin that conforms to the internal market. Even with higher animal husbandry standards, European initiatives are indicated, instead of national solo efforts. 

 

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