Federal Minister of Agriculture, Julia Klöckner, about information about packaging, antibiotics in the barn, climate protection on the ground and public smoking.
Julia Klöckner presents herself at the interview with thick files in which are detailed all the details of their many agricultural policy projects: animal welfare label, food labeling, fertilizer regulation … The Minister of Agriculture Agriculture is looking forward to the fruit plate on the meeting table. She chooses kiwi slices.
Mrs Klöckner, Germany's agriculture contributes significantly to the emission of harmful gases for the climate. Do German farmers lack awareness of climate change?
On the contrary: virtually no industry suffers as much from climate change as from agriculture. Our farmers feel the extreme effects of the harvest. Vintages that are too dry or too wet sometimes lead to considerable losses for companies. It is true that agriculture is a victim, a participant, but also a provider of solutions to climate change. It offers all kinds of opportunities to link CO2 and protect our climate.
How do you want to reduce emissions?
Agriculture and forestry have effective means of protecting the climate: soils and forests can absorb a considerable amount of CO2. So I'm counting on afforestation, protecting peatlands and reducing peat extraction. The new Fertilizer Ordinance also aims at protecting the climate as well as the accumulation of humus on farmland, which we are actively promoting. Among other things, here in our department, we also start with my national agricultural strategy, which I will introduce later this year.
Why do not you write less animals per stable to preserve the environment?
Our livestock is already declining. The number of pigs fell by more than four percent in 2017 and 2018. The number of cattle declined by about three percent over the same period. The only exception is poultry, which has something to do with changing consumer behavior. But we must honestly lead the debate: if we immediately and drastically reduce livestock in barns, more meat would be imported from abroad – consumer demand would remain so. We would then have producers' meat on the set, on production and environmental standards over which we have no influence.
For more transparency in housing conditions, they provide for a voluntary label on the welfare of animals. But even Lower Saxony, where many fattening companies sit in particular, wants to impose a mandatory animal welfare label on the Federal Council. Does not that make you think that?
Consumers want to know quickly, while shopping, that animal welfare is more involved. It's the same with the organic label. That is, it is marked according to binding criteria, which is higher than the legal minimum standard. The EU has recently repeatedly stated that, legally, it was the only safe option if we did not want to fail as for tolls. Anyone who claims a registration plate required at the national level sounds good, but this leads to the so-called anti-European discrimination, which deliberately pushes the welfare of animals in the background.
What do you accuse the government of the state of Lower Saxony?
Prime Minister Weil also wants to respect the minimum legal standards in breeding, as if each driver was congratulated for his stop at the red light. Respect for our laws should be taken for granted. The consumer would not be more oriented towards such labeling, he would prefer to know where he was doing more for animals. And why the piece of meat is more expensive then.
Is the use of antibiotics in the pest under control?
In Germany, the use of antibiotics in animal feed has decreased by more than 30% since 2014. This shows that our minimization strategy is working. However, I am concerned about the high use of reserve antibiotics in the fattening of poultry. Because these very effective antibiotics should only be used in case of emergency and after careful consideration. As for the fattening of poultry, the use of these reserve antibiotics is 40%. It's unacceptable, so you have to go down. Such wide use of reserve antibiotics can have serious repercussions on human medicine – on our health.
What do you want to do about it?
Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn and I have invited representatives from the poultry industry to speak next week. The industry has a duty to act. We want to clarify the great use of these funds. And where we need to follow up in terms of housing density, hygiene and authorization of individual funds.
Consumer protection should also be used for new food labeling. Your department conducts consumer studies. Do not you think citizens already know where too much sugar, fat and salt are?
Especially in many finished products, there is too much sugar, salt and fat. This has health consequences but also economic ones. With our strategy of innovation and reduction, we work together to effectively reduce these ingredients. At the same time, the nutrition chart on the back of food packaging is too complicated for many. I therefore want a label easy to understand on the front of the products, which is clear and provides guidance when shopping. In a representative survey, I now involve consumers. Your decision will be decisive for me.
His house is also responsible for a possible ban on tobacco advertising. Until now, the Union has slowed down, but the Chancellor has also pronounced in this direction. Will the ban on tobacco advertising happen?
The World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco encourages us to further restrict advertising.
Should the ban on advertising also apply to e-cigarettes?
If they contain nicotine, yes. The proportion may be partially lower, it is always harmful to health. It is claimed that e-cigarettes would incite smokers to go out. I say: but you can also motivate to start. Whether it's a filter or an electronic cigarette: in my opinion, no product of this type containing nicotine should be allowed to be advertised. Neither on billboards nor in the cinema. But the decision is now in Parliament, coalition deputies are reaching agreement on a joint legislative initiative.
Sweden prohibits smoking in front of bus stops. Should smoking be banned in public in this country too?
Where people in public places inevitably become passive smokers, it is legitimate and sensible to think about restrictions. This can be difficult to identify and control. But when the ban on smoking was introduced in restaurants, many were also skeptical about the implementation and compliance rules. Today we know: it works. And more: this led to a positive change of attitude.
Interview: Marina Kormbaki and Gordon Repinski
To the person
Julia Klöckner (46) is since March 2018 Federal Minister of Agriculture. The Palatine was also vice-president of the CDU for seven years. From 2002 to 2011, she was a Member of Parliament and Parliamentary State Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture. After the unsuccessful attempt to become Prime Minister of Rhineland-Palatinate, she returned to federal politics a year ago. Klöckner is considered a conflict-loving agriculture minister: she is usually associated with environmental and animal welfare associations, and more and more lobbyists. ;Agriculture.