Christian Schmidt Minister Plans Two-Tier Meat-Labeling System

Minister for Agriculture Christian Schmidt plans to introduce an animal welfare label to help shoppers identify ethically-produced meat.
Christian Schmidt said he wants to start by labeling pork then expand to poultry.

In the midst of the debate on animal farming and meat production, Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt has come up with a plan to improve animal welfare, Handelsblatt's sister publication Der Tagesspiegel reported Sunday.

Mr. Schmidt said he wants to reward farmers who exceed the statutory requirements in animal husbandry for example by providing more spacious stables, better fodder or opportunities for the animals to play. The government would introduce a multi-layered animal welfare label. “There will probably be two levels, standard and premium,” he said.

The politician, who is a member of the CSU, the Bavarian sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, explained he intended to build on the success of the national organic food label, which now certifies over 75,000 products. “I want to achieve this with animal welfare as well,” he said.

Mr. Schmidt wants to start by labeling pork then expand to poultry. He added that farmers willing to participate in the program would be entitled to subsidies from the government or states in order to keep ethically produced meat “affordable.”

The minister also said he was bemused by the impassioned debate on food production in Germany, saying, “How you eat and what you eat, in this country it’s almost like a religion.”