Exiting from the animal industry can no longer be postponed. In March 2021, we published our study The exit from the animal industry can no longer be postponed. In March 2021, we published our study „Milliarden für die Tierindustrie – Wie der Staat öffentliche Gelder in eine zerstörerische Branche leitet“ (“Billions for the animal industry – How the state channels public money into a destructive industry”). As part of the study, we developed the following demands:
1. Clear targets for the drastic reduction of livestock numbers with concrete milestones for implementation
Livestock units must no longer be expanded or newly built. With the help of suitable measures, the reduction of at least 80 percent of the current stocks by 2030 must be organized in a socially just manner. In view of the dramatic effects of the livestock industry, time is pressing and a reduction of around ten percent per year is doable in a socially just way.
2. Good alternatives for employees
Good alternatives must be created for those working in animal husbandry and slaughterhouses. The Netherlands is currently demonstrating on a small scale what exit programs for livestock farmers can look like. There is also great interest in such programs among pig farmers in Germany.
In any case, all employees must be involved in the design of the exit programs. Viable concepts are also needed for regions that have been heavily dependent on the livestock industry to date. In order to organize the rapid exit from the livestock industry in a fair manner, we call in particular for the large corporations to be socialized and converted into plant-processing companies under the self-management of the workers – especially with a clear perspective for migrant workers.
3. Support for ecological and solidarity-based cultivation projects
The billions of euros that are currently still being spent on livestock farming must instead be spent on comprehensive support programs for the organic cultivation of cereals, vegetables, pulses and nuts, among other things. Special support should be given to self-managed and solidarity-based farming as well as projects that focus on needs rather than profits, connect producers and consumers and promote a regional and fair food supply. As part of the transformation, a comprehensive land reform is also needed so that land previously used for the livestock industry is also available for socially just and ecological cultivation projects.
4. Promoting climate protection and biodiversity
Areas freed up by the dismantling of the livestock industry must be converted into intact ecosystems with high biodiversity and for the storage of greenhouse gases. In particular, peatlands must be rewetted and forests (re)afforested to protect the climate. In many places, valuable ecosystems with diverse vegetation can be created in the form of flowering meadows, for example. The establishment and maintenance of protected areas must be seen as a community task that is adequately remunerated and also offers an attractive source of income for farmers.
5. Food system transition
To be effective, the exit from the animal industry requires a drastic change in consumption patterns: The consumption of meat, milk and eggs must fall rapidly by 2030. To achieve this, comprehensive education campaigns are needed, particularly about the consequences of the animal industry. Public institutions must redesign their canteens in a participatory way, i.e. with the involvement of their users. Measures that run counter to the agricultural and food transition, such as advertising campaigns for animal products, must be discontinued. In addition, we call for the gradual democratization and decommercialization of food distribution and the expansion of solidarity-based communal catering.
6. Future-oriented research and teaching
Public funds that currently flow into research in the interests of animal husbandry must be redirected to research into sustainable agricultural practices and concepts such as organic plant cultivation, agroecology, eco-vegan agriculture, etc. Corresponding training places and study courses must be established and promoted to replace the current offerings.
The demands described here can be implemented realistically and promptly as a first step towards a socially just and ecological agricultural and food transition. This must be understood as part of a comprehensive system change towards a solidary and ecological mode of production and organization that does not operate at the expense of other sentient individuals and is not profit-oriented.