“No breakthrough to be seen”: Animal welfare expert council throws in the towel

“No breakthrough to be seen”
Animal Welfare Expert Council throws in the towel

In order to improve animal husbandry in Germany, the Borchert Commission regularly makes recommendations to the federal government. But the implementation of the concepts leaves a lot to be desired, and there is a real standstill when it comes to financing issues. After four years, the experts are now stopping their work.

In the struggle for better conditions in animal husbandry, a much-noticed commission of experts is dissolved. The panel led by former Federal Minister of Agriculture Jochen Borchert decided to end the work, the ministry announced. In a statement, the Commission stated that the conditions for the successful implementation of its recommendations had not been created either in the previous legislature or in the first two years of this legislature. “Even the draft of the federal budget for 2024 does not show the necessary breakthrough.” Hence the work is finished.

As early as 2020, the “Competence Network Livestock Husbandry” had presented a concept for a gradual conversion of animal husbandry towards significantly higher standards. It also provides for billions of euros in secured long-term financing so that farmers are not left with additional costs. The traffic light coalition has initially decided to provide a boost of one billion euros, but has been struggling for months to obtain more permanent funding.

The Commission recently emphasized that the 2024 budget must bring clarity about the financial requirements for the conversion. If the current lack of funding and the unreliability of the payments remain, the work will be stopped, it said in a statement at the beginning of June.

According to the Commission’s recommendations, an “animal welfare tax” on animal products is under discussion. A surcharge of 40 cents per kilogram of meat would be conceivable. Minister Cem Özdemir thanked Chairman Borchert and the members for a “successful and forward-looking work” that brought different interests together. It is clear that additional funds would be needed for further steps. He will do his utmost for that. The coalition factions are working on permanent funding.

“Resounding slap” for Özdemir

The Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland (BUND) called the end of the commission a wrong step. In particular, she could remind Finance Minister Christian Lindner and the FDP not to continue blocking the restructuring at the expense of farmers, said Chairman Olaf Bandt. The Central Association of the German Poultry Industry also regretted the end. Union expert Albert Stegemann spoke of a “resounding slap in the face” for Özdemir’s policy. The government must live up to its responsibility for agriculture and not just give Sunday speeches.

In autumn 2022, the Borchert Commission accepted a new mandate from the ministry to continue to accompany the conversion process, but even then protested against a standstill in funding. The committee included representatives from business associations, science, environmentalists and the federal states.

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