It is one of Federal Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir's major projects: On Wednesday, on his 57th birthday, the Federal Cabinet adopted the key points for a nutrition strategy. However, a core proposal that Özdemir brought up in the summer is missing from the resolution: increasing the VAT rate for meat.
Apparently, the point in the coordination between the ministries was omitted, because the project was still included in an earlier unpublished version available to WELT - i.e. before the other ministries had a say. Instead, there is now only a smaller, newly inserted tax regulation in the paper.
In an interview with WELT AM SONNTAG, among other things, Özdemir suggested setting the VAT rate for fruit, vegetables and legumes to zero. "Costs relatively little, but brings a lot," said Özdemir in June.
As of the end of September, the draft of the key issues paper also said: “The sales tax rate on vegetables, fruit and pulses is to be reduced, and the previously reduced taxation of animal products is to be abolished. In addition to the health-promoting effect, a tax adjustment would also have positive effects on the climate and the environment.”
The point, which consumers would have felt immediately upon implementation, may not have made it into the government program due to concerns from the Treasury Department. Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) is generally opposed to tax increases - and has thus prevented Özdemir from being able to show success on this point.
However, Özdemir did not campaign too vehemently for his tax proposal in the traffic light coalition. The minister had already rowed back in an interview in June: "However, this did not trigger a storm of enthusiasm among all coalition partners. Of course, I adhere to coalition discipline.”
Otherwise, the key issues paper, which is the basis for the development of a detailed strategy for the coming year, contains few surprises. The government is committed to the established goal of increasing the organic quota in German agriculture to 30 percent.
A core project of the paper are better offers in canteens, homes and schools. By 2030, the recommendations of the German Society for Nutrition (DGE) should become binding for all operators for communal catering. These DGE guidelines for healthy eating are to be supplemented by ecological aspects in the future.
A voluntary commitment has been included in the concept to offer more than 20 percent organic food in canteens of federal institutions by 2025.
In a guest article for WELT, Özdemir argued that these projects would help poor people in particular to be able to afford a healthy diet.
The paper that has now been passed also contains a tax plan that was not specifically provided for in the previous draft: "Donations in kind to tax-privileged corporations can, under certain conditions, be claimed as a tax reduction in income taxes." This makes it easier for companies in particular to donate food to the food banks .
The reactions of the business associations were also foreseeable: The food industry again criticized the fact that the paper wants to privilege a plant-based diet – at the expense of high meat consumption.
"We will therefore work to ensure that neither individual foods nor the realities of life associated with them are discredited within the framework of the nutrition strategy," explained the head of the food association, Christoph Minhoff. Similarly, the farmers' union argued: "Government campaigns against animal-based foods are inappropriate."
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