Greenpeace calls for higher VAT on meat products in Germany
Greenpeace is calling on the German government to increase the VAT on animal products. The campaign has proved polarising amongst politicians.
Greenpeace wants to make animal products more expensive
Environmental campaign organisation Greenpeace wants the regular rate of VAT to be applied to meat and animal products in Germany. Currently, a reduced rate of 7 percent VAT applies to certain products and services, including food, books and hotel accommodation. "The new federal government should adjust the value-added tax for meat and dairy products to the regular rate of 19 percent," Greenpeace agricultural expert Matthias Lambrecht told reporters. “In return, it can lower the VAT on fruit and vegetables or eliminate it entirely.”
Lambrecht explained that such changes would relieve consumers and create an incentive for people to buy more environmentally friendly, plant-based products. The extra money generated by higher VAT on meat products would go towards supporting better animal husbandry practices on farms. “The consumption of meat and dairy products in Germany causes environmental and climate damage amounting to around 6 billion euros a year. The real costs are not reflected in the price,” Lambrecht said.
Lambrecht insisted that the move is not about telling people what they should and should not eat, but rather about making sure the people who participate in the system pay for the pollution it creates.
Politicians clash over proposed VAT increase
The Free Democratic Party (FDP), a member of the ruling “traffic light” coalition, has already rejected the move. Gero Hocker (FDP), who is part of an agricultural working group for his party, has warned that increasing VAT will not serve as a “steering tax for the re-education of the citizens” and would actually further complicate an already complicated system. "To want to achieve more animal welfare and climate protection by increasing the VAT on meat is window dressing," he said.
On the other hand, the new Federal Agricultural Minister, Cem Özdemir (Greens), has called for an end to “junk prices” on certain agricultural products, as it leaves farms with less money, thus preventing the improvement of animal welfare. Former agriculture minister Julia Klöckner has previously iterated this sentiment.
VAT or consumption tax?
One study from the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture saw increasing the rate of VAT on animal products to the normal rate of 19 percent as a feasible way of improving animal welfare. However, an expert commission working for the ministry has said it would prefer an “animal welfare tax.” This would see the application of a 40-cent surcharge per kilogram of meat and sausage and a 15-cent surcharge per kilo of cheese and butter.
It has been suggested that compensation for surcharges on animal products could be offered to consumers. This would come in the form of reducing VAT on fruit and vegetable products even lower than the current 7 percent rate.