Photo: Carmen Jaspersen / picture alliance / dpa
The announcement by the food discounter Aldi that in future it would only purchase milk from the highest levels of farming met with clear criticism from farmers' representatives.
They fear being stuck with the additional costs of converting their businesses.
Aldi Nord and Süd, together the largest milk buyers in Germany, announced on Thursday that they would gradually phase out the sale of conventional fresh milk in the lower tiers 1 and 2. From 2030 onwards, only milk from husbandry levels 3 and 4 should be on the shelves. These allow the dairy cattle more space, fresh air or even outdoor exercise, as well as GMO-free feed. Organic milk automatically corresponds to the highest husbandry level. Edeka has similar plans.
"Many smaller dairy farmers will close down," says Ottmar Ilchmann, head of the working group for rural agriculture in Lower Saxony/Bremen. "With one or two cents more, which farmers might expect from such programs, no barn conversion can be financed." Ilchmann has more hopes for the planned state animal welfare label, which the new Minister of Agriculture Cem Özdemir (Greens) wants to promote. For this purpose, the calculation of the surcharges for individual maintenance levels could be made binding.
The trade considers such a practice to be difficult to enforce under antitrust law and unrealistic.
For farmer representative Ilchmann an advanced argument.
Surcharges were not a problem for pork: Pig farmers are currently paid an additional five euros per animal for husbandry level 2, which provides a little more space and play material.