A visit to farm Enno Garbade in Lower Saxony shows what consumers can expect from a planned animal welfare card – and what it doesn’t. The seed farmer from Bramstedt in Cuxhaven is particularly proud of his fattening barn. There are evil pigs wandering around in relatively spacious boxes and getting fresh hay. They don’t have an outdoor area but they can see daylight.
“We have curtains in the stalls here, mostly upstairs. The pigs can see what the weather is like in the morning, and I can see it too. Not only is it nice for the pigs, but it’s also a great place to work,” says Farmer.
The concept of Ozdemir is only valid in the Fourth Stable
However, the life of pigs on the Enno Garbade farm does not begin in the feedlot; The animals were previously in three other pens. Fast Track Tour: Pregnant pigs lie at the mating station. Then the piglets are born in the anesthesia barn. Then move on to raising pigs. The following applies to all three stalls in front of the feedlot: How pigs are raised here has absolutely no bearing on the new animal welfare label. Because Ozdemir’s plans concern only the last stage of life before the slaughterhouse, which is to fatten pigs for 16 weeks.
Animal welfare poster says nothing about the origin
The farmer criticizes another point: consumers cannot even see where the pig was born on the package. So it is not clear whether the animal was bred to German standards throughout its life or was only fattened here. According to the current project, it is not possible to identify whether she was born abroad and was castrated without anesthesia from the label. This is why seed growers like Enno Garbade are required to introduce a mandatory classification of origin. He also criticizes animal rights activists That classification of animal welfare is not short here.
Farmers generally welcome this concept
However, farmers’ associations such as rural people in Lower Saxony find Ozdemir’s plans fundamentally correct. Enno Garbade also welcomes the fact that there should be a mandatory classification of animal welfare: “We have been discussing animal husbandry levels for years. We must not forget one thing: at the moment we are only in ad mode. But Mr. Özdemir still has four years left.” It does, however, call for loopholes to be closed and for farmers to have security planning.
Experts call for a complete package for more animal welfare
For agricultural economist Achim Spiller of the University of Göttingen, categorizing animal welfare alone is not enough. This is not a “game changer”. Approvals should also be easier – and more money will be needed. Federal Agriculture Minister Ozdemir has so far promised 1 billion euros for the next three years, for example to transform the stables to be more animal friendly.
According to the agricultural economist, this is far from enough. Together with other experts on the so-called Borchert Commission, he calculated the financial requirements on behalf of the former federal government in order to improve the conditions for raising all kinds of livestock. The commission has reached three billion euros annually.
“The danger is that we will then have a label, but the ranchers will not invest in animal-friendly breeding,” warns the agricultural economist. Farmers will not invest in animal-friendly agriculture if they cannot afford it.
Millions of investments for free range stables will be necessary
In the feedlot of Enno Garbade it becomes clear what the agricultural economist critiques. According to the concept of Ozdemir, the barn can correspond to the breeding level 3 – the clean air barn. The farmer would like to convert it into an outdoor barn with an outside area where the pigs can indulge in the outdoors. But Enno Garbade is skeptical, because he will have to invest about 1.3 million euros for about 1,300 pigs without knowing if it will pay off.
The situation of pet owners is really difficult
Expensive transfers and high feed prices are already causing problems for the sowing farms. With his wife and 25-year-old son, he runs the business in the family business. They had never thought so strongly about quitting smoking before, says Inoue Garbad. He and other farmers in Lower Saxony, whose interests he represents, urgently need programs to close farms that are no longer profitable.
But Inoue Garbide still wants to persevere: “I love my pigs. It seems stupid now, because they also go to the slaughterhouse. But when the work is going well, and it gives me self-confidence, I must say it frankly.”