70 percent of the animals in the barn: Greenpeace: Fewer and fewer cows are grazing

70 percent of the animals in the barn
Greenpeace: Fewer and fewer cows are grazing

The increasing sales of organic milk products show that there is an increasing demand for milk from good animal husbandry. But in the last ten years, the attitude in many companies has actually deteriorated. Tied up in dark stables, more and more animals eke out their existence.

Before the conference of agriculture ministers in Büsum, the environmental organization Greenpeace asked Federal Minister Cem Özdemir of the Greens for greater support for grazing. In 2020, only 31 percent of dairy cows in Germany had access to pasture, compared to 42 percent in 2010, Greenpeace said. Grazing is not only particularly species-appropriate, it is also particularly valuable from an ecological point of view.

“So far, neither the federal government nor the federal states have done enough to support dairy farms that let their cows out on the pasture,” criticized Greenpeace agricultural expert Martin Hofstetter. The federal government must now initiate the trend reversal with a strong pasture promotion program. There is enough money from the European Union that could be used for this.

Greenpeace evaluated information from the Federal Statistical Office on the individual federal states. According to this, most of the almost four million dairy cows in Germany live in Bavaria (28 percent), followed by Lower Saxony (21 percent) and North Rhine-Westphalia (10 percent).

“Overbred Turbo Cows”

In Bavaria, only every fifth cow (18 percent) has access to pasture, in Baden-Württemberg every fourth cow. Schleswig-Holstein is at the top of the ranking: half of all cows are grazed there at least part of the time. In Bavaria, a significant proportion of the animals are also kept in tie-stalls, which is controversial for animal welfare reasons and, according to the coalition agreement, should be ended within ten years, as Greenpeace emphasized.

Hofstetter demanded: “Dairy farming in Germany urgently needs to be improved.” Cows are naturally walking animals that eat grass. “We have turned them into overbred turbo cows that are in the barn all year round and are encouraged to give a maximum amount of milk with the use of more and more concentrated feed.”

The strong increase in sales of pasture milk and organic milk products shows that there is an increasing demand for milk from good animal husbandry. Dairies did not reward farmers enough for this. Greenpeace therefore believes that the state should take action. The topic of grassland and pasture promotion is on the agenda at the conference of agriculture ministers starting on Wednesday in Büsum.

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