Introduction to German elections: Candidates deal with transformation of food and agriculture with children’s gloves
Environmental and climate groups have long viewed the agricultural sector as particularly stubborn and defensive when it comes to adapting its practices to new environmental standards and accepting climate change mitigation as one of its goals. Their attacks on the agriculture industry’s views on animal welfare, pesticide bans and meat consumption have left the two sides at the very least.
A split in the same direction continues to prevail between the Federal Ministry of the Environment – in the last legislature headed by SPD Minister Svenja Schulze and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture – headed by CDU Minister Julia Klöckner.
To achieve some reconciliation and find common ground between the two groups, Chancellor Merkel launched the “Commission for the Future of Agriculture” in 2020, bringing together 31 personalities from agriculture, the environment , consumer groups and science. The commission’s final report was unanimously accepted and Merkel said her recommendations should serve as a guideline for the next government. Members of the German Farmers Association (DBV), Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND) and the chairman of the committee all agreed that while nothing else came from the work of the committee, one thing they had achieved was the ability to talk to each other, better understand each other’s problems and work as a team to find solutions.
While this looks promising, some farmers criticize that the commission’s work makes no difference to their problems in the here and now. Therefore, the issues they had with the current government policy in 2019 and 2020 have not been resolved. It is therefore unlikely that (conventional) farmers themselves will vote for those who advertise even stricter environmental obligations (eg Green Party, SPD). They traditionally vote on the conservative CDU-CSU Union (more than 60% in the 2017 legislative elections, according to polls) or the pro-business FDP (14% in 2017).
As for the “average consumer”, they are handled with children’s gloves by competing politicians. Since the Green Party’s “Veggie Day” debacle in 2013, eating habits have been a forbidden area in rural Germany. Some even blamed the poor results of the 2013 Green Party elections on their proposal for public canteens not serving meat once a week. When asked whether the Germans should cut back on their meat consumption, SPD candidate for chancellor Olaf Scholz said in July that “the state should stay out of this kind of question.” “If someone voluntarily reduces their meat consumption after consulting their family doctor or by intimate conviction, it is good for the individual and for the climate,” he added.
Asked the same question, CDU candidate chancellor Armin Laschet said: “We will have to compensate a lot. Because even in 2045, there will be no global ban on meat. I prefer to work on pragmatic solutions now. He added that Germany with its high standards had to remain competitive, because moving production abroad, whether meat, steel or other products, would be even worse for the country. weather.