Industrial agriculture: a non-partisan alliance launches its campaign

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“Only the rich could afford meat and cheese”: this is how opponents of the factory farming initiative reason

In September, the Swiss population will vote on whether to apply stricter guidelines for the production of food of animal origin in the future. Opponents of the template launch the voting campaign with emojis and dotted votes.

Lettering will soon adorn roadsides and train stations.

Image: Peter Schneider/Keystone

“The factory farming initiative challenges our business,” says Fabienne Wyder, a farmer from Büren an der Aare. She, who raises pigs with her husband and owns more than 700 animals on her farm, is one of eight speakers who are trying this Monday afternoon to convince media representatives to say no to the factory farming initiative. .

The initiative, presented by 26 representatives of various organizations and parties, asks the Federal Council to define criteria for accommodation, exercise, slaughter and the number of animals kept per farm. According to the text of the initiative, these must at least correspond to the guidelines of Bio-Suisse from 2018 – at the latest 25 years after the acceptance of the initiative. The vote will take place on September 25.

National Councilor of the Markus Ritter Center.

National Councilor of the Markus Ritter Center.

Image: Keystone

The proposal is being opposed by a nonpartisan alliance of SVP, FDP, center and trade associations. First and foremost, the farmers’ association. Its president and central national adviser Markus Ritter describes the initiative as “unnecessary and harmful”. The law on the protection of animals in Switzerland is already “of a rigor unique in the world” and the number of animals per company is limited. “We already have many label offers based on voluntary offers,” says Ritter. But their market share is small and there is no demand. Or as Ritter puts it:

“For many people, animal welfare seems to stop at checkout at the latest.”

Conditions would also apply to imports

The farmers’ association fears that the cost of animal products produced in Switzerland will increase after the adoption of the initiative. SVP President Marco Chiesa goes even further and says: “Only the rich could afford Swiss meat and cheese.” At the same time, imports would increase. But even these would have to meet Swiss requirements if the initiative were to be accepted.

SVP Councilor of States Marco Chiesa.

SVP Councilor of States Marco Chiesa.

Image: Keystone

At least that’s what the initiators claim. According to Christoph Mäder of the economic umbrella organization Economiesuisse, this is “not compatible with the agreements of the World Trade Organization”. Because: “According to their rules, the products must not be treated differently at the border because of their method of manufacture”, specifies Mäder.

Will we soon no longer have a choice?

Furthermore, the initiative violates all free market principles. “You have to force a supply for which there is clearly not enough demand,” says Mäder, referring to the low share of labels in meat sales.

Babette Sigg of the kf consumer forum shares the same line:

“As a consumer, I can always choose products that fit my personal attitude, budget and ideology.”

But this selection is threatened by the initiative, according to Sigg. She fears paternalism through state regulation and therefore the end of freedom of choice.

The Federal Council and Parliament reject the initiative

The Federal Council is of the opinion that the legislation already prohibits factory farming and that the required import regulations can only be achieved at the cost of significant administrative effort. He therefore recommends that the initiative be rejected. Parliament also rejected the initiative. The counter-proposal drawn up by the Federal Council did not find a majority there either. This stipulated that criteria of animal-friendly housing and care, regular exercise and gentle slaughter should be included in the constitution.

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