German agricultural consultations stumble over billions for agricultural transition

In Germany, the so-called Borchert advisory committee for the modernization of agriculture and livestock has ceased its activities. The breakup is the result of differences of opinion between the state of Bavaria and the federal government about agricultural policy and about the financing of an agricultural transition that has already been advocated. 

The advisory committee was set up a few years ago by the then Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality Julia Klöckner (CDU) and was chaired by former minister Jochen Borchert.

Experts from politics, science, the business community and animal clubs then came up with an extensive package for modernization that also took environmental climate and animal welfare into account. That transition should together cost a multi-year investment of 4 billion.

But the center-left German 'traffic light coalition' that has now taken office has been unable to agree on financing for months, and has not yet reached more than 150 million extra for extra animal welfare.

The big question is who should pay the billions needed to convert stables and cages, both in dairy farming and in the poultry and pig industries. Should there be a 'meat tax' so that only meat eaters pay for the production costs of their meat consumption, or should tax money (from iedereen) be added? 

In the federal government, the FDP liberals are against raising taxes, and the Greens believe that 'the polluter pays'. In the SPD people wonder why the taxpayer or consumer should pay for new pig houses, while the large German meat companies have earned millions in recent years but invested little or nothing in extra animal welfare.

The political disagreement about financing is also related to the centralization of agricultural policy desired by Berlin. Under previous German CDU governments, the federal states had extensive regional powers. The federal states want to keep it that way, but do not want to contribute to the billions of the transition advocated by Borchert.

Regional elections will be held in the southern German state of Bavaria on October 8. For many years it was a traditional CDU/CSU stronghold of the conservative kind. There party leader Söder and the European EPP group leader Manfred Weber have been campaigning for the farmer and against Berlin and against Brussels for weeks. 

According to Markus Söder, Prime Minister of Bavaria, the abolition of the commission is "a clear disapproval of the failed policy of Greens minister Cem Özdemir", adding that "the continuing contradictions between the federal states and the federal government undermine the credibility of have undermined the committee”.

According to him, the Borchert committee's deadlock is the fault of the traffic light coalition, and not of decades of CDU/CSU government in Berlin and in the federal states.