11 Apr 2024, 13:35
Benjamin Wehrmann

Higher tax on meat needed to make farming more sustainable – German agriculture commission

ARD / Clean Energy Wire

A higher tax on meat products is needed to reduce the food sector’s impact on the environment and increase the well-being of animals, Germany’s government-appointed Commission for the Future of Agriculture has said. Meat products currently are subject to a reduced value added tax of seven percent and a higher tax could be implemented with relative ease, while poorer households could be protected by parallel measures, the commission said in a paper seen by public broadcaster ARD. “In the medium-run, much more money will be needed to transform animal farming and integrate a growing number of participating producers and more animal species,” the commission added, which is composed of representatives from the agricultural industry, retailing businesses and from consumer and animal protection groups.

Agriculture minister Cem Özdemir said he is open to the commission’s proposal, pointing out that a parallel tax cut for fruits and vegetables “also has health benefits.” The lobby group German Farmer’s Association (DBVrejected the idea to increase the taxation of steaks, sausages, ham and other meat products, arguing that the money for improving animal husbandry conditions should be raised directly from the state budget. “Moreover, it’s necessary to ensure that farmers receive the required funding,” said DBV head Joachim Rukwied.

Repeated protests by the farming industry earlier this year swept across Germany and many other European countries, with farmers and agricultural industry lobby groups arguing that excessive bureaucracy, high costs and tighter rules for climate and species protection in farming pose a risk for the sector’s current business model. However, while price rises have been among the greatest concerns among citizens in Germany throughout the past year, meat consumption in the country has kept shrinking constantly and fell to the lowest level on record in 2023.

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