Federal Food Minister Cem Özdemir (Greens) expects food to become even more expensive and believes that further relief for low-income households is necessary. “That can’t be said seriously, but I don’t think we’ve reached the peak yet,” said the Minister of Agriculture in an interview with the Tagesspiegel when asked how expensive food will become. Many manufacturers would now have to spend more money on energy and would pass this on to customers. Low-income households therefore need “further, targeted relief”.
The Green politician would support the abolition of VAT on fruit and vegetables, as demanded by social organizations. “I think that’s good, because consumer spending plays a major role, especially among the poor, and because it would also contribute to healthy eating,” said Özdemir. “But I’m afraid there is currently no majority in the government for that.”
In order to eliminate the global supply bottlenecks in grain, Özdemir campaigned at the EU level to forego the actually prescribed change in crop rotation this year and to allow the repeated cultivation of wheat. According to scientific calculations, “up to 3.4 million additional tons of wheat could be produced in Germany alone”.
Because of the war in the Ukraine and the associated price increases for grain, Brussels is currently discussing moving away from the four percent set-aside as part of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in order to grow grain on this land. Özdemir doesn’t think that’s a good solution. The decision not to set aside four percent of agricultural land would result in 3.6 million to 5.3 million tons, but “across the EU,” emphasized the Minister of Agriculture. “I think the numbers speak for themselves.”
In addition, Özdemir called for the international community to look for permanent alternatives to exporting Ukrainian grain via the Black Sea in view of the Russian war of aggression. “When it comes to exporting grain overland, we are no longer just talking about a temporary alternative,” emphasized the minister. As long as Russia, headed by Vladimir Putin, acts as a “permanent aggressor”, “Ukraine cannot rely on being able to transport its grain safely across the Black Sea, even in the event of peace,” Özdemir continued.
More on the Ukraine war at Tagesspiegel Plus:
The Minister of Agriculture suggested developing “permanent, high-performance alternatives to the sea route” in order to be able to permanently export Ukrainian agricultural goods while bypassing the Black Sea. “Because securing Ukrainian grain exports is a global task, the EU, the USA and, above all, the economy must be brought on board,” he emphasized. For example, the construction of a new broad-gauge railway connection between the Ukraine and the Baltic ports is conceivable. Exports via the Danube may also be the most effective, said the Greens politician.
This Friday, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Federal Foreign Office and the Development Ministry are holding the conference “Together for Global Food Security” in Berlin, which will focus on the looming hunger crisis in regions such as the Horn of Africa as a result of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.