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Animal welfare: higher meat prices, farmers have to invest billions


Five cents per meal - that is how much an improvement in animal welfare would cost consumers on average, according to a new study. The conversion of livestock husbandry is expected to take years.

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Stable cows: billions for meat production

Photo: Michael Eichhammer / imago images

Germany's farm animals - cows, chickens and pigs - are not doing well, this has long been scientifically proven.

A study by the Hanover University of Applied Sciences found that a not inconsiderable proportion of dairy cows are lame.

These complaints can also be traced back to limb diseases that arise as a result of unsanitary or narrow stalls with unsuitable floors with crevices.

In order to solve these and other problems in factory farming, it is up to politicians - and society: because although many consumers are aware that they actually do not want cheap meat, most meat products in supermarkets come from precarious animal husbandry - and will anyway Bought.

Politicians must invest in the conversion of livestock farming.

But how expensive will it be for pet owners and consumers?

A study by the Thünen Institute now provides the answers. "We have calculated across all scenarios that this will cost around three to four billion euros per year," said Institute Director Folkhard Isermeyer in Berlin when presenting the data, which should initially determine the total costs for agriculture. This must be financed through funding and an animal welfare premium. That all sounds very expensive. "But if you convert it to one meal a day, it's five cents per meal," said Isermeyer. The effort for the consumer is therefore relatively low.

If society wants all farm animals in Germany to have a higher level of animal welfare, then this cannot be achieved through the market. In other words: Nobody has the illusion anymore that supermarket customers are consistently picking up better products at the refrigerated counter and thus turning animal husbandry for the better. In the future, the state must increase the requirements for animal owners and at the same time support them financially, the expert recommends.

The money for this is to come in through higher prices - either through a VAT increase on meat and meat products from seven to 19 percent or through an animal welfare tax on meat and meat products, which should make more space for animals, better feed or straw litter possible.

"I'm open to both," said Federal Agriculture Minister Klöckner.

"There is no right to the cheapest meat," said the CDU politician.

But meat will not become a luxury product for the rich either.

She believes that consumers are ready to bear additional costs.

The aim is that less meat, but better quality is consumed - "everyone can live better with that".

With pressure and suction on the desired path

Regarding the state's requirements for animal owners, study author Isemeyer said: The farmers must be guided by pressure and suction on the socially desired path. According to the proposal, level 0 of animal husbandry should be banned by 2030 - this is the level at which the currently applicable minimum standards are met. In 2040, level 1 should no longer be allowed - it currently provides for slight improvements for the animals, such as a larger outdoor area.

The former Agriculture Minister Joachim Borchert (CDU), chairman of the Agriculture Future Commission, justified the long period: farmers who wanted to reach level 2 or 3 usually have to build a new barn.

This takes a considerable amount of time.

In many places, such a far-reaching investment is only made with the generation change on a farm.

According to the German Farmers' Association, farmers are basically ready to follow the suggested route.

In addition to a reliable and long-term funding concept, a binding label of husbandry and origin is required, which consumers can use to identify higher animal welfare standards, as well as simpler building permits for stables.

Klöckner wants the farmers to have contracts with the government that secure their investments.

"Anyone who remodels a barn is really investing money." Therefore, the remodeling of animal husbandry should not depend on which coalition is currently in power.

She is currently having draft contracts drawn up between the state and animal owners.

In addition, she wants to extend the maximum funding period of seven years currently permitted under EU law.

In order to promote the restructuring of German livestock farming, Klöckner set up a commission last year to submit proposals.

A feasibility study published in early March suggested the higher VAT to finance such a renovation.

The impact assessment study that has now been presented examines how this restructuring will affect the industry, the individual businesses and consumers.

joe / dpa / AFP

Source: spiegel

All tech articles on 2021-05-03

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