A provisional political agreement has been reached in the German coalition cabinet on a new insect protection law and on a tightening of the animal welfare law. A long battle between the two Ministries of Agriculture and the Ministry of the Environment preceded this.
With these two bills from Environment Minister Svenja Schulze (SPD) and from Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner, Chancellor Angela Merkel will talk to protesting farmers' unions and the sixteen state governments in the coming weeks.
Merkel has to try to find support in German society for many drastic measures, barely six months before the new Bundestag elections.
CDU minister Klöckner has made numerous reservations in the cabinet on controversial parts of the insect law of her colleague Schulze (SPD). Klöckner's concerns are precisely about those elements against which German farmers and several states have been protesting for months.
Speaking party-politically, Klöckner's "caveat" clears the way for CDU politicians to oppose too many "environmental" measures in agriculture. For example, it has not yet been decided whether the federal states will retain their great autonomy over agricultural policy, or whether exceptional rules will be introduced. It is known, however, that Chancellor Merkel believes that the agricultural issue should be resolved before the elections.
To protect plants, flowers and insects, the pesticide glyphosate will be banned from 2023 and its use will be reduced before then. Pesticides may no longer be used on field edges near lakes, streams and other water features, it is now proposed. More agricultural areas are declared a protected biotope. Light pollution in the cities must be reduced.
Environmental and nature conservation organizations responded with approval. Farmers' organizations are protesting the restrictions on pesticides. Bundestag and Bundesrat have yet to agree to the new rules. Merkel wants to hear the farmers' associations and state ministers next week.