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German FDP liberals strike opposition to additional tax on meat

In German politics, the liberal FDP party no longer seems to oppose the introduction of a meat tax to finance a stricter animal welfare law in livestock farming.

The three parties of the 'traffic light coalition' have broadly agreed on the modernization of agriculture and livestock farming, but have so far differed on how this should be paid for.

The liberal group in the agrarian state of Lower Saxony is now advocating a surcharge of 40 cents per kilo of meat, to be paid almost entirely by supermarkets and brokers. They are allowed to pass on the surcharge to customers as little as possible, so as not to further fuel inflation.

The liberals in Lower Saxony say they have agreed and discussed their proposal with leaders from the national FDP group.

With a consumption of 7.4 million tons of meat per year, this corresponds to a meat allowance of almost three billion euros, which should flow into a national animal welfare fund. This should be used to pay for the 'buy out of livestock farmers' and the 'clean up of slaughterhouses', as well as subsidies for barn renovation, organic farming and more animal welfare.

An expert committee led by former minister Borchert last year presented a comprehensive and sound package to modernize Germany's agriculture and livestock farming, including stricter laws against animal cruelty and environmental pollution. 

In addition, Germany should start complying with EU environmental standards for soil, air and water. For German livestock, this would amount to a multi-billion dollar replacement building for almost all stables.

The German LNV minister Cem Özdemir has so far made no choice about the possible financing of such plans: should the customer pay for it, or the farmer, or the chain store, or the middlemen? Or a combination of them? Moreover: should there only be an extra surcharge on meat sales in supermarkets, or also in restaurants? And will it be a 'tax, or a levy or a surcharge? And who is responsible for collecting it?

In an initial response, Agriculture spokesman Renate Künast of dee Groenen welcomed the fact that the FDP had given up its opposition to financing the conversion of livestock and agriculture. “This is an important support for increased animal welfare and fair competition.” 

The state of Lower Saxony is an important agricultural state: more than half of Germany's broiler chickens and roosters are kept there (60 percent), every third pig (33 percent) and about every fifth beef (21 percent).


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