The European Union is under attack for subsidizing meat and dairy promotion while urging constituents to reduce their carbon footprints. Dutch animal welfare group Wakker Dier found that the EU provides €200m annually to promote agricultural products.
Promotion has been provided to companies including Pork Lovers Europe and Association of Poultry Processors and Poultry Trade. Much of the promotion encourages consumers to increase their consumption of meat, which has declined in recent years in the EU.
The animal activist group is also concerned that EU policy opposes the policies and interests of each country. Wakker Dier spokeswoman Anne Hilhorst told Dutch News, ” Europe has an aging and unsustainable system of subsidies which impacts on animal welfare, health and the environment. One subsidy is counteracting another and the national interest is diametrically opposed to European policy.”
An ad for a pork campaign targeting Swedes and Danes said, “Pork is no longer a natural part of the diet of young Scandinavians. They tend to eat less meat in general and to avoid pork in particular. The aim is to increase consumer demand and thus halt any otherwise expected fall.”
Sjoerd van de Wouw, a researcher at Wakker Dier, said of the funding problem, ” We understand that you need to consider the interests of producers but not by completing ignoring the interests of consumers and the climate.”
The European Commission’s spokesperson responded and said, “The selection of projects is based on a strict and defined procedure involving external evaluators. The producers’ organisations send proposals regarding their campaign ideas and also participate in the funding of the campaigns. In an effort to constantly evaluate and adjust its existing policy, the commission will soon launch a public consultation on the EU promotion policy for agricultural products.”
Research by Quartz found that the United States has a similar policy for agricultural promotion. The United States government uses a system called checkoffs, and in 2016 they donated approximately $562 million to these groups promoting agriculture, including $332 million to dairy and $70 million to pork.
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