EU should target meat consumption to reduce food prices

This is an opinion article by an external contributor. The views belong to the writer.

EU Ministers will have an informal meeting on Monday to discuss policy responses for the food crisis caused by the war in Ukraine.

Options to be discussed include subsidized storage of pork meat and allowing to make use of set-aside land to increase food production.

Farmer organisations in Brussels asked for such policies. They also used the war and respective crisis to push against eco-friendly solutions and attacks on the Farm to Fork Strategy.

The best option however to reduce food prices, would be if the EU would announce a reduction of meat consumption by 25% by the end of 2022 and 50% by 2025, to make space for grain production for human consumption instead of grains and soy for animal feed and meat consumption.

190 scientists have asked the EU in an open letter for a massive reduction of animal foods to allow the production of more grains for human consumption, together with two other policy responses: more legumes and less food waste. The letter was published on Friday by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

The question is how meat consumption levels could be reduced. The True Animal Protein Price, a coalition of European NGO’s, including farmers, food companies, youth groups and charities, ask for fiscal incentives for ‘true pricing of meat’, including external environmental costs.

The TAPP Coalition sent a letter to EU Agriculture Ministers and EU Commissioners asking for a 25% reduction in meat consumption, together with a 25% cut in the production of fodder in the EU for meat, dairy and eggs. This will result in 16 million hectares in the EU that can be used for cereals and oils for human consumption, replacing the loss of Ukraine cereal production.

The EU Commission can give incentives to EU farmers to seed more ‘summer cereals’ like wheat for human consumption this spring, to be harvested this summer, in stead of cereals and oil seeds for animal fodder.

A fast policy response is needed that can include short- and long-term policies like media campaigns asking consumers to reduce meat consumption by 25% while simultaneously supporting Ukrainians and other international victims of the war.

To achieve the goal, several tools are in policymakers disposal, such as higher VAT rates on meat products, consumer taxes on meat or meat import taxes, a 0% VAT rate or subsidies on vegetables, investments in fruits and plant-based meat alternatives, restrictions to sell meat in public bodies and schools or a total ban on advertisements for meat in the EU and selling meat at too low prices.


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