January 19, 2012 / 4:50 PM / 8 years ago

Germany to seek EU animal welfare label on meat

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany will press the European Union to introduce a label on meat saying it came from humanely raised farm animals, German agriculture minister Ilse Aigner said on Thursday.

The move would be part of a new German government programme to improve farm animal welfare, she said.

“Transparency changes buying behaviour and then the production processes and manufacturing processes,” she said at the opening of the Green Week food trade fair in Berlin.

An EU-wide label on meat to show consumers that the animal was reared humanely should be introduced, she said.

“This will make it possible for consumers to recognise products which were produced using a very high level of animal welfare,” she said.

It would not be practical for Germany to make such a move alone, she said.

Farm animal welfare is part of a charter for agriculture and consumers setting out a series of medium and long term goals for German farm policy announced by Aigner on Thursday.

The charter said the amount of space farm animals receive and their freedom of movement were key factors for animal welfare.

Practices such as castrating piglets without painkillers was not compatible with animal welfare, it said.

The actual definition of humanely-reared still needs considerable research, said a report from a ministry working group preparing the charter.

Consumers must be ready to pay more for meat with such labels, German farmer’s association DBV said.

“Consumers will have to change their understanding of prices,” said Heinrich Graf von Bassewitz, DBV spokesman for organic farming.

“Consumers who complain about so-called factory farming have pushed forward this form of agriculture though their purchases of cheap foods and their extreme price-consciousness.”

Reporting by Hans-Edzard Busemann, additional reporting by Michael Hogan; editing by Jason Neely

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