tv Doc Film Deutsche Welle September 16, 2019 7:15am-8:01am CEST
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environmental damage caused by the farming industry has been on the rise in recent years. animals are often mistreated. in germany a growing number of people want to see changes to agricultural policy but little has shifted could this be because of lobbyists in the agricultural sector are lobbyists more powerful in this policy area than in others. our research revealed a tightly intertwined web of interests in which corporations influential figures manning several lobbying positions and politicians are closely linked a lot is at stake during the making of this film billions of euros in agricultural subsidies were being negotiated in brussels and germany was under pressure to finally impose stricter limits on the amount of liquid manure used on its fields. who is pulling the strings behind the scenes.
brussels farmers and conservation groups from across europe are protesting outside the headquarters of the european commission to call for a change in agricultural policy they collected 800000 signatures for a petition demanding subsidies for farmers who produce food in an environmentally friendly fashion the demonstration was organized to coincide with an e.u. negotiation on farming subsidies totaling 55000000000 euros a year. might enjoy sling is a member of the european parliament and an organic farmer the green party politician has been campaigning for years for environmentally friendly farming to
be awarded with subsidies. it doesn't on the inside but on the other side there are powerful lobby interests it's not as if money isn't being made from farming in europe and for it's a profitable business and the food industry is one of the e.u.'s main export earners so naturally there is here to ensure that the a lot of money on to the agricultural sector one overs in new york and i got. martine hustling says taxpayers' money is currently being used to interrupt the support of corporations but that it should serve society as a whole. the european parliament has been negotiating the redistribution of farming subsidies for months a total of $55000000000.00 euros per year the largest slice of the e use expenditure powerful lobby groups are clamoring to maximise their share.
but whose interests will prevail. in the european parliament martin who is lying is part of a team. negotiating farming issues for the green party and he's preparing for him to basic scheduled for the next day when to repeat no ransom senior adviser on agriculture and rule development joins from the sling to go over the strategy. well. i think we should try to push the point that the current agricultural challenges are going to get worse if things don't change soil and fertility will drop further. after working with that yeah sure but that's why we have to emphasize that even more so there are plenty of figures and supporting documents and the commission described the situation correctly in its appraisal so the question is why are we taking action yet. that should be enough for the 2 minutes this is just
because it's why we need you. 2 minutes is what martino weaselling will have to present his most important arguments to other members of the european parliament. sean and i do have a degree of anger in me it's just ridiculous that they still haven't understood it . we have so much evidence that this form of farming will be our ruins in uganda but there are still people sitting there saying everything's ok if we can explain it in a different way they'll understand it and indeed us all. but it's the evening before the 1st round of talks which side's interests will come out on top in the debate and why. the next morning german conservative m.e.p. is likewise preparing for the debate. that desk is also chairman of byron lund one of the biggest producers of dairy products in germany he takes
a skeptical view of investments in environmental protection. to describe. i find arguments calling for the farming sector to become more environmental misled even when the it's ok if we said that from now on 20 percent of the land should be used environmentally if you forgive you that would result in production being relocated to farming areas around the world for the. death says that if more german land is used in a way that benefits the environment major producers will inevitably go elsewhere he wants the status quo maintained under which funding is awarded on a per hectare basis desk has offices around the corner from that of social democrat maria noise she takes exception to taxpayers money being allocated according to land area finish that is the big question is which pharmacy receives support and then the answer for me is the public funding should be for services in the public
interest you should get money is not simply for owning land but depending on what you do with it it's activities that ought to be rewarded not ownership it is since . there are 2 clear. camps here policies that favor the environment and the common good or those that mean the more land you own the more money you are paid and. the different parties made their way over to the agriculture committee. will also be there and will face powerful opponents. in the oceans through and if the food industry and its representatives here in parliament so powerful i believe things would be moving in a different direction neal but the food industry depends on direct payment subsidies to be able to compete and export markets of its partner to come. martin who was then wants to see an eco friendly agricultural policy as do environmental and consumer protection groups the e.u.'s farming policy is hammered
out here by the agricultural committee which side will end up getting its way albert desa is the c.e.o. of a major dairy producer martin hoisting is an organic farmer. and maria noise is a former teacher but. i'm not awful. phil kogan is the european commissioner for agriculture and role development and an advocate of area based subsidies. in jordan to ensure full for the community in particular when trees in the areas of persons engaged in a. one time for martine hoisting to have his say. also house link. stuff posted a week proposal from the commission looks like things will get even worse except
for those few fancy headlines that. will poisoning managed to convince his colleagues will be returning to the debate in brussels later. to. cologne back at our editorial offices we want to investigate who is pulling the strings behind closed doors our industry lobby groups determining agricultural policy and if so how. we come across a revealing document from 2015 by the scientific advisory board of the german ministry of agriculture the paper concluded that policy was strongly influenced by interest groups because of the powerful and effective farming and agribusiness lobby. how does this impact farmers and what has changed in the past 4 years. we head out to do some research on the ground one
environmental issue is ground water pollution it's been known for years that the excessive use of liquid manure in fields leads to nitrate groundwater contamination in june 28000 germany was condemned for exceeding e.u. fertiliser limits and currently faces fines of up to $850000.00 euros per day until it reduces its use of liquid manure. or in north rhine-westphalia where a lot of liquid manure is produced how are the farmers dealing with the problem. this farm belongs to martin ron shoulda who also rears pigs he has had this farm for 40 years and as we arrive he's preparing a delivery of pigs for slaughter. currently each pig yields 20 euros in profit in some years this drops to just 6 europe's.
one case of i funny for thought you come out sure thing about this pretty simple right now it's 20 euros per patient 0 if i sell $1000.00 pigs a year all i earn is $20000.00 euros how do you try and that's our family income every month if you don't get far on that from me and i'm called coming in $500.00. $20000.00 euros for one year of hard work from children may be a part of a villian euro industry but his own profit margin is slim. and after now if we currently have $850.00 picks from us if we wanted to live soley off that pigs we'd have to have $4000.00 your 1000 but it's insane it would mean even more liquid manure that needs distributor most. the farmer says he already has too much manure he has fields full of crops but they aren't enough to dispose of all the animal waste his manure tank as he shows us is full to the brim with.
yom tov we already have far too much liquid manure for our fields we have to have 300 cubic meters picked up and taken away because we have too many pigs so for. the excess manure ends up several 100 kilometers away on other farmer's fields liquid manure is a valuable fertilizer but there is simply too much of it what kind of system is this where a pig is now with practically nothing small scale farmers live at subsistence level and the huge quantities of liquid manure are increasingly polluting germany's drinking water. each pig that rumsfeld's a drives off to the slaughterhouse has a so-called smaller weight of a around $100.00 kilos the average price of pork in german supermarkets is $6.00 euros 70 per kilo. every year some $65000000.00 pigs are slaughtered in the country it's a 1000000000 euro market that is a huge earner for industry. chemical companies make money from medication and
pesticides the farm supplies sector from fodder mixtures and fertilizers the agro financial industry from loans for agricultural machinery and large scale animal sheds the meat industry from slaughtering and processing and finally the retail sector from the sale of food products. and production continues to rise germany is now the world's furred biggest exporter of food. in order to survive martin rumsfeld just says he'd have to expand which would 1st mean going into debt there is a farmer's union but he doesn't sense much support from them. a bone for bond bank vault they got they have no interest in the small farmers only in the quantities of feet they can sell and then keeping the speed pellet plants running. the lot of people representing the union also sit on the boards of b.
companies including the collectors the lot and insurance for x. factor of them or and for the who i can't make sense of it i'm in a bit on going to we have managers in the union who are at the same time working for major companies also fumes it's an orange info ban. in response to our query the german farmers union insisted it also represents the interest of small scale farmers. the agricultural industry continues to increase turnover but at what price to the public our next stop is mower saxony where we meet a gun harms from the old and bore water board for years he's found the nitrate levels in water just below ground to be worryingly high and 520. also we're very concerned that the pollution we're currently only seeing below the surface well at some point seep deeper into the level we get our water from.
based on his measurements hydrologist is able to calculate how the ground water quality will deteriorate in the future. what does he make of the government's approach. and i'm stuck on sort of recognizing the problem early on and working with us on solutions from i think they said there was no nitrate problem i knew a few of them still claim that one off yes the e.u. was threatening to impose fines time is running short on action has to be taken to . we accompany him to the land where he will inspect his latest sample too much nitrate in drinking water is carcinogenic with young children particularly at risk expensive filter systems might soon become necessary but that would almost double the price of water in some regions according to the energy and water
management industry association today's results are hardly encouraging. $119.00 just under $120.00 milligrams per liter that's more than twice the permitted limit. his colleagues elsewhere in germany are also finding critical levels water board officials are urgently calling for measures to be taken. come from here when it comes to fighting for more stringent regulations from a norm we continually find ourselves up against the agribusiness lobby. they've been managing to prevent stricter regulations for years i mean. long so for him. could tightening germany's fertilizer legislation keep the country's drinking water safe it's a debate with a lot at stake because less liquid manure would also mean fewer pigs which would in turn have consequences for the entire industry for years the german government has failed to agree on a solution. makes you wonder who is in bed with whom there's
a lot of money involved who actually influences farming policy that's the question for. our parliament members subjected to so much lobbying influence that you have to ask whether they're still acting with the public's interest in mind this for you because. we began researching whose interests politicians in key positions are really representing and began examining how fertiliser legislation was decided in the past. germany's government has known for years that it has to act not least due to. pressure from the e.u. over excessive nitrate levels in the ground water time and time again however amendments have been postponed in 2016 the german parliament's agriculture committee began examining how much liquid manure should be allowed on crops attending the meeting was one of the most renowned scientists in his field he
calculated how much nitrogen from liquid manure or artificial fertiliser crops need to grow out slick warm welcome to you all i would like to introduce our expert speaker a professor. from the christan alberich to university and in the recitation so cute . together with 30 other scientists friedhelm talbot calculated how much nitrogen plants such as maize need to grow. the researchers found this to be 150 kilograms per hectare and professor talbot recommended this figure at the hearing. but just before the negotiation ended the committee decided to recommend 200 kilograms of nitrogen perhaps they're significantly more fertiliser than the plants can actually absorb according to the experts the surplus seeps into the groundwater in the form of nitrates. the
scientists were asked for their expert opinion at the agriculture committee hearing but their findings were not adopted. it's the problem and it's extremely problematic for a scientist to see how legislation is being based on deals here find on levels of fact that are far removed from scientific knowledge up for business have to know how is it. we are meeting professor talbot 2 years after the hearing he tells us the 27000 amendment regarding the nitrogen level has had enormous consequences. for jordan the consequence. armors can now use this additional amount of fertilizer this was not on the agenda before and it was slipped into those negotiations right at the end user find the little guy which is and who was behind that. to answer this question we begin by identifying which german parliament members worked on the legislation the
preparation of such bills takes place behind closed doors here in the agriculture committee this is where decisions are made on how animals are kept and how food is produced. our analyses revealed that almost half the parliamentarians on the committee have direct links to agriculture. a large proportion of them also hold high level positions in the agriculture industry in the farmers association or in the agribusiness financial sector and that proportion is particularly high in the conservative c.d.u. c.s.u. parliamentary group. what did these m.p.'s say and do in the committee in 2017. austin doff from the green party remembers the negotiations vividly incident but all that the christian democrats and christian social union
people did was stall and. they torpedoed the whole thing and it was an endless process. and we in the opposition got a pretty good picture of events because social democrat colleagues would come over to cry on our shoulders and they said you can't imagine how tough going the negotiations are how difficult it is to get any kind of agreement. vilhelm place meyer is from the junior coalition partner social democrats and was involved in the talks 1st hand he tells us he fought long and hard for stricter legislation on fertilisers. issues i feel like a bit of a failure because i could have done better. and who made you fail. on my colleagues from the christian democrats. and also the interest groups behind the scenes who are also represented there. in these negotiations there was relatively tight solidarity between the farmers union and
the c.d.u. . many colleagues are also members of the union. there are very important issues on the table and they exert their influence. you know. does this mean some members of the agriculture committee are biased towards industry interests. also and or thinks at least 2 members are. also parts in cobb and your highness willing are high profile conservative m.p.'s connected to farming. they were definitely not among those pushing for progressive fertiliser legislation instead they stalled proceedings in. each time claiming they were protecting their farmers i call it protecting the business interests. in the undersurface. of hearts and comp was then chairman of the christian democrat group on the committee. your highness curling is his successor. in feb 27th
team the german parliament voted on the fertilizer legislation co-processor supposed some company took to the floor i'm confident of victory in being one of those who was. the i mean we've done something good for the future i ask you all to vote in favor of a few that thank the legislation was passed with the conservative social democrat majority but then brussels announced its response to the outcome alarmed the e.u. which said the amendments didn't sufficiently protect drinking water the threat of the fine for germany is still unresolved. as well. back in cologne in $29000.00 we are researching which unspoken interests influence the vote in berlin how many politicians have times to industry and which companies do they work
for. we meet you don't issue it's a researcher from the university of brain on behalf of the nature conservation group in a b u nish hits took a closer look at leaders in the agriculture sector and a politician and mapped out the various connections he found the following. as a high for stopping the political influence at the government level committed at least in the agricultural sector as wielded by individuals who are what you would call wealthy functionaries who wear a multitude of hats to all fields and they represent associations in the agricultural sector which are rooted in agribusiness and ideally also hold positions on supervisory. boards of manufacturers or industry groups benefit this enables me to exert my influence in directly and ensure my interests are realized also in the agricultural committees in europe and in berlin. and betty. the former but just talk member finds us of hosts income is such
a multi functionary the fertilizer amendment was the last item of legislation he helped introduce before moving completely into industry. he's now president of the right 5 some confederation germany's biggest umbrella group representing farming collectives and also sits on the board of an association representing corporations alongside executives from buyer and other agra giants back when he was negotiating the new fertilizer legislation in the german parliament votes in camp was already on the supervisory board of a gravitas one of the biggest producers of agricultural products in germany we take a closer look at a gratis the commercial cooperative has a prominent stand at this trade fair in minster a gravest turns over 6000000000 euros a year and essentially sells everything the agricultural industry offers farmers animal feed seeds pesticides and mineral and nitrogen fertilisers in its annual
management report from 2016 the company warned that stricter fertilizer legislation would likely lead to a significant decline in revenue. in 2016 franciosa points and comp was still an m.p. and on the supervisory board of a gravitas on the german parliament's website which lists all his additional posts and pay grades we can see that while holds income was negotiating the legislative amendment a gravis increased his salary from level 2 to level 3 he went from earning up to 7000 euros a month to earning up to 15000 euros a month ago. incidents hoatson come said he did not have time to be interviewed but he did provide a written response to our questions he said the cited figures are unfounded and that secondary posts are permitted under legislation governing parliamentarians he
did not respond to our question regarding a conflict of interest votes in company tired from politics in 2017 to concentrate fully on his work in the agribusiness sector. he was succeeded on the agriculture committee by johannes rootling like hudson camp for being also works for a graphs and was involved in negotiating the fertilizer of invent this multi functionary is reportedly one of the top earners in the bunch of stock. who is johana swerving the impi obtained most of his industry posts only after he became his party spokesman on the agriculture committee. during currently holds around 15 positions in various corporations lobby groups and the banking sector. to name just a few perking is on the board of trustees of follett it on seizure height
a company responsible for checking quality and safety standards in the food sector . he's also president of a regional branch of the farmers association. as well as on the supervisory board of d.c. hoot a leading provider of real estate financial services in germany and he's on the supervisory board of the l.v. m. insurance group's pension fund vision. hunnish berthing also works for fertiliser supplier a graphic where he sits on the advisory board. good thing said he did not have time for an interview with us due to scheduling commitments our question about whether he had conflicts of interest went unanswered a gravity sent us a written response saying the company did not see a conflict of interest for refereeing or holds in comp and that both politicians act according to their conscience. brussels the e.u.
is threatening germany with fines of up 285-0000 euros a day for breaching e.u. fertiliser limits it once the country to revise its legislation so that its fertiliser use complies with e.u. directives protecting ground water quality. we asked germany's minister of agriculture yulia plattner how she sees lobbyists in agriculture element alia markel the secondary posts of a lot of parliamentarians on the agriculture committee especially from the conservative faction are mainly within industry how do you ensure a balance of politic. this is not i hadn't heard the mainly within industry but if someone has their own farm and then. i'm talking about executive appointments at major agricultural corporations and are going to name as a scam well i know they get a condom and it isn't on any supervisory board tomorrow nor is my lane
a mortar or other people i think we should stay fair here and refrain from using these black and white categories there are interests everywhere and someone having interests isn't necessarily bad as the they need to firstly be transparent and secondly also not make political decisions according to one group's interests but considering the various groups interests on the mouth clashed left. but how realistic is this when industry has such a strong influence on politicians bank accounts we go to beaumont to hear what a constitutional law expert thinks about members of the agriculture committee simultaneously holding posts in industry. spent 12 years as a judge on germany's federal constitutional court. whether parliamentarians should be allowed to represent other interests is a question that's been around since the dawn of the parliamentary system political
skills but in the case of obvious industry interests and personal ties we do have to ask critical questions vietnam could. listen these questions should 1st be asked in the parliamentary arena itself ones and without moralizing or demonizing but rather demanding for greater transparency for trust. so just how transparent are german politicians regarding their various interests. it's spent 12 months analyzing how parliamentarians and lobby groups work in 10. his research has laid bare the various connections. for small human game that you need somebody to collect process and fact check this information for something a regular citizen does not have the capacity for at least 5 of us and also because in some cases there is insufficient public data on how many positions an individual
has and with which conflicts and collisions of interest and call the view on and that makes it pretty much impossible to see who is doing what we have a where and why it. information is publicly available but the details are hard to decipher in berlin we visit the guna vodka or green week it's one of the biggest events on the global agricultural trade fair calendar and to chance for agribusiness to do some grandstanding it's also a meet and greet for farming ministers and industry stakeholders and the most important lobbyist is your walking recreate president of the german and the european farmers' unions his job centers on friendly relations with politicians he's considered one of the most influential individuals in the agribusiness sector . farmers union president rock veit has an array of links to the industry he holds over a dozen high ranking posts in
a range of different companies and lobby groups from banks to fertiliser suppliers and zoot soaker the world's biggest sugar producer. for its influence extends far beyond germany's borders fill hogan is also at green weekend berlin as european commissioner for agriculture and rural development hogan is the key figure in the allocation of agricultural subsidies. you walk in new creed is eager to rub shoulders with the commissioner. e.u. headquarters in brussels it's now just a few weeks before the agriculture committees vote on agricultural subsidies the biggest item in the e.u.'s budget and the allocation of funds has been hotly
debated. commissioner phil hogan has presented a proposal that would retain the system of area based payments. that the committee meeting we catch up with the 3 german members of the european parliament conservative albert dest chairman of a major supplier of dairy products the green party's martine hoist lighting and organic farmer and social democrat and former teacher maria noyes the commissioner defends the old system. so it is that right where her hospital listen to direct this other very far as to the particular is related to the way it is if. it is the work or the provisions of article authority of the treaty which set of the objectives of the n.d.p. martin hoisting voices his criticism of the system. if you don't think it i'm a little disappointed mr hogan. no i agree with the court of auditors that the climate
objectives cannot be achieved with the 1st pillar of payments. i have not found a concrete point perhaps mr hogan would care to pay attention. it's nice of mr hogan to listen to what members have to say. that this. and i need for actually just continuing as before but under new headings great headlines but it's highly doubtful that we'll be able to meet environmental and climate objectives thank you very much. it seems those with environmental concerns have a hard time being heard here. conservative alberta defends the policy by downplaying the amount of subsidies involved. in autism. if you take all the public expenditure in europe from brussels agriculture accounts for less than one percent need to make that clear to the public but farming is not the huge beneficiary of
subsidies that it's always made out to be used to that. desk says we need to increase the amount of food exports in order to be able to feed the world to listen to the fact that we have to boost productivity by 2056 the world will need 60 percent more food or increasing productivity does not mean that the environment will be harmed look it's because you cannot empirically prove that the scones. studies that establish a connection between agro chemicals and environmental damage are unreliable according to dest who is constantly going from one committee meeting to the next in the pesticides committee for example he advocates the use of glyphosate. who is albert deaths over the last 50 years the buck. varian has been involved in agricultural policy from local town councils to the german and european parliament
he became an m.e.p. in 2004 albert dest is another well connected official the qualified farm manager is honorary chairman of the bavarian farmers union for more than 20 years he has been chairman of one of germany's largest dairies buy or not which produces cheese for supermarket chains and for export and post annual sales in excess of 1000000000 euros plus the n.e.p. is also on the advisory board of germany's largest agricultural conglomerate. which also has a large food export business. but under desk sees no conflict of interest he sees no problem in reconciling his executive position at the dairy producer with his responsibilities as a member of the european parliament. other m.v.p.'s however
take a critical view of such proximity to industry one of them is social democrat maria noise. does held a vote suggest there's someone else pulling the strings absolutely and i can give you an example but i don't think you'll mind mr debts repeatedly uses the word we we hear of the opinion that and i often say mr davis or rather albert who is this we today your party the farmers union or the dairy collective your chairman of the just what is this we becomes blurred when he says we are of the opinion that that is when i notice how his position isn't clear and how important it is for a parliamentarian to remind themselves of their juicy to the public when not here to get the best deal on behalf of a dairy company he was not being mandated to ensure that the pharmacy received
direct payments with a minimum of conditions to feel what i am here for is to conduct agricultural policy for the entire population. me back in our offices in cologne considering the industry interests present in the committees can the parliament still make balanced decisions. in the us if we place the 3 sheets on top of each other we will get a picture of how the system works. before picture shows the web of connections between the key corporations lobby groups and politicians. their representatives sit on the same committees allowing them to coordinate their strategies these connections have evolved over several decades today they have become a sturdy system that can withstand reform efforts. brussels in the spring of 2019
a few days before the vote. is. the tension is palpable in the offices of martin hoisting and we're not the only t.v. . crew here will he get a majority for his cars. to do that also this is going on for the committee is basically split 2 ways meaning which direction things will go it comes down to a handful of people at this point we're about to find out whether we'll get this majority or that majority it's exciting because the outcome is still on written this is money. no real noise szell is also working on a motion for the agriculture committee which aims to expose conflicts of interest half of the any piece on the committee are themselves farmers they are therefore direct beneficiaries of the subsidies which automatically leads to a conflict of interest says notional. account.
was a town council in rosenheim for the 10 years which is its own administrative district it was completely normal there to abstain from certain votes because of posh ality for example if there is only one plans for developing a location and you happen to have land there it would be dishonest to vote and also prohibited so in a municipal assembly having a conflict of interests is no big deal you just ship the chair back to signal you have a vested interest i do match and that's how it would be in the european parliament too but sadly it's not this is that if. there is in fact a code of conduct in the european parliament it stipulates that any piece should disclose any conflict of interest in writing but ultimately this has no consequences for the vote on the use common agricultural policy. in april 2900 the agriculture committee decides to maintain the model of area based land subsidies around half of the members voting have ties to the industry we speak to
constitutional law expert again he calls for more transparency in the system in brussels and berlin. gibson. lobbying comes from various directions and as part of the parliamentary system. but it has to be visible and not done in the shadows. or because if it happens covertly it was and is then suddenly exposed it damages public confidence. a finished song and missed calls. the found b.-o. thinks self-regulation is a sensible approach a kind of standardized conscience check what we learned from our research is that we need better rules regarding transparency plus a code of conduct for cases where politicians stand to gain financially from a decision because while having secondary jobs in industry is permitted it seems to also compromise the credibility of europe's democratic system.
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this is deja vu news live from berlin u.s. president donald trump says the u.s. is locked and loaded after drone strikes damaged major oil facilities in saudi arabia american officials blaming iran even though who's the rebels in yemen are claiming responsibility well prices and initially soaring in response we'll look at market reaction also on the show. surprise in tunisia as initial results from the country's snap election though 2 anthony establishment candidates making it to the next round.