Federal Minister of Agriculture Özdemir has developed a law for labeling of husbandry. His colleague in Bavaria rejects this, although she also wants better conditions for the cattle, pigs and poultry on the farms, as she says.
When it comes to the cattle, pigs and chickens in the stables of Bavarian farmers, Agriculture Minister Michaela Kaniber (CSU) wants more animal welfare. That is why, a year and a half ago, she declared war on the so-called tethering, in which the dairy cows, but also fattening cattle are sometimes tied up in narrow stalls all year round. That’s why she started the BayProTier initiative and pumps a lot of money into the promotion of new, exemplary stables. That’s why every year it awards livestock welfare prizes to farmers who have switched to particularly animal-friendly forms of husbandry – as role models for other cattle, pig and poultry farmers.
Now it’s all about animal welfare. This Friday, the Federal Council will deal with the draft law on animal husbandry labeling by Federal Minister of Agriculture Cem Özdemir (Greens). It is intended to be the starting point for all meat and all meat products in Germany to be labeled with the way the livestock were kept in which they were produced – as has been the case with eggs throughout Europe for years. As a first step, Özdemir’s new label only applies to fresh, unprocessed pork at the counter. It distinguishes between five types of housing. The lowest includes the legal minimum standards, the top is organic, where the pigs are not only fattened with organic feed, but also have much more space than in conventional husbandry, can go outside and the like.
There has been criticism of the draft law – from politicians and animal rights activists. For one it doesn’t go far enough because it only refers to fattening pigs and not to all livestock. For the others, the husbandry standards are too low, especially in the lower labeling levels, for them the new law brings far too few improvements for the animals. Others speak of massive disadvantages for German farmers because the labeling obligation – for reasons of European law – is initially only to be introduced for fresh pork from Germany. And then there are those who deny that the law creates more transparency for consumers.
But there are also supporters. One of them is Hubert Heigl, organic farmer, pig breeder and chairman of the state association for organic farming in Bavaria. Heigl is convinced that “the overdue conversion of animal husbandry will only be possible with the mandatory husbandry labeling.” The previous attempts with voluntary labels have all failed not only from Heigl’s point of view, but also according to the assessment of almost the entire world of experts and animal rights activists. Heigl therefore calls Özdemir’s initiative a turning point. The labeling requirement is the beginning of a real restructuring of animal husbandry. That’s why he hopes that Bavaria will approve Özdemir’s draft law in the Bundesrat. And how does Kaniber behave? She sticks with the critics.