A tax for better conditions for keeping animals would be legally possible, says a study. This could be achieved through a higher value added tax.
BERLIN taz | A levy could make meat consumption more expensive in Germany in order to use the income to improve animal husbandry in the stables. This is the result of a study by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture. This could be the starting shot for the conversion of the animal husbandry. At least that is what the former Agriculture Minister Jochen Borchert (CDU) warns. The commission named after him has worked out ways to improve animal welfare. “We still have the chance to organize the conversion of livestock farming ourselves,” warns Borchert.
The Borchert Commission has brought up an animal welfare tax. Consumers in the supermarket should pay 40 cents more per kilogram of meat. For cheese it would be 15 cents, for butter 2 cents. The federal government is to use the proceeds to finance the farmers’ investments in better stables and a premium for better animal welfare. At the same time, the experts want to introduce a label that customers can use to identify the level of animal welfare.
If farmers improve the conditions for keeping poultry, pigs or cattle, it costs them a lot of money. Their products would have to become more expensive. Local producers would hardly stand a chance against cheap offers from home and abroad. “We cannot avoid political instruments,” says Martin Scheele, who co-authored the study.
A legally compliant solution is not that easy. Because the European internal market sets limits for national solo efforts. A pure increase in the price of meat to encourage local farmers to shop is probably off the table. It is not permissible to charge offers from abroad with a fee that will then only benefit German farmers.
Klöckner for cross-party consensus
Instead, the study shows three ways to finance better housing conditions. The easiest thing to do is to introduce a supplementary tax on income tax, i.e. an allowance for chicken, pork and beef. Legally, this would be problem-free. However, the authors do not see any steering effect for consumer behavior. Nothing would change at the checkout in the supermarket.
Consumer behavior would be influenced by an increase in the VAT rate for animal products from the current 7 to 19 percent or all food to 10 percent. A purely animal welfare tax per kilogram would also have a control effect. However, both variants would have to be brought into line with EU law. The lawyers consider this possible if the earmarking of the income no longer applies.
“For me, it’s not about whether, we talk about how,” says Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner. She wants to reach a bipartisan consensus for the restructuring of the system. Time is also very short for a law in this electoral term. The Bundestag practically ends its work at the end of June.