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On the occasion of the opening of the International Green Week in Berlin on Thursday, Federal Agriculture Minister Ilse Aigner presented the "Charter for Agriculture and Consumers".
The Charter describes both the future challenges and conflicts of interests facing the agricultural and food industries at national and international level and points out solutions for a future-oriented and sustainable policy. "This Charter is a first. All social groups have played their part: Consumers, farmers, trade associations, environmentalists, animal rights activists, religious leaders – all sat around one table and discussed the future of the agricultural sector. What emerged was a Charter for Agriculture and Consumers that places a wide variety of policy measures on the agenda and builds a bridge between the agricultural sector and consumers," said Aigner to journalists in Berlin.
In workshops, farmers, stakeholders representing different social groups, concept developers and experts discussed competing interests and areas for specific political action. This debate focused on subjects related to environmental and animal protection and food quality and safety. The matters at issue also included the necessary productivity and profitability of the German farming sector that should produce high-quality foods and contribute to the future energy supply. In tandem with the working groups, a broad debate was held on an internet forum at www.bmelv.de that had been specifically set up for this purpose. Here, all citizens were able to contribute their views to the debate on the charter.
"We can look back on an unprecedented process of wide-ranging social debate," said Aigner. "Instead of talking about each other, we now talk with each other." When presenting the Charter, the Minister stressed that, in terms of modernisation and greening, the German agricultural sector has outstripped most EU states. “This has placed us well ahead of many competitors. Now the Charter for Agriculture and Consumers is laying out the next milestones on the road ahead. Sustainable agricultural and food industries are the foundation that I build on: environmentally sound, economically viable, socially responsible and resource-conserving production methods that lay the groundwork for future generations," said Aigner.
Thus, Germany will in future provide particular assistance to land-based farm holdings and strengthen regional economic cycles. The use of valuable agricultural land for other purposes is to be reduced and scarce resources are to be more effectively protected. "We will bolster animal welfare and, by increasing transparency, provide clear guidance to consumers in the choices they make when shopping for food," Aigner announced. The Minister also lobbied for putting an end to distortions in international trade by abolishing all agricultural export refunds.
Aigner emphasised that the Charter for Agriculture and Consumers placed key policy measures on the agenda in five fields of action:
"It is my programme and is geared to the short, medium and long term. We will constantly update the programme in a dialogue with the big social groups. We share the goal of improving the understanding between farmers and consumers – a great feat that we can only accomplish together."
© Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture