tv Doc Film Deutsche Welle September 21, 2019 2:15pm-3:00pm CEST
and summit demonstrators in almost every country have demanded that world leaders do more to come back global warming. as all for now up next on the dock film we look at the influence of big cultural companies over politicians in brussels don't forget you get all the latest news and information around the clock on our website . stand for. language courses. video. anytime anywhere. media center.
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 put this speed 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 a huge pressure to finally impose stricter limits on the amount of liquid manure used on its fields. who is pulling. strings behind the scenes.
at. 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. montana voice leading 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. down the soft 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 group that's a profitable business in the food industry is one of the main export earners so naturally there is here to ensure that the pumps 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 maximize their share.
but whose interests will prevail. in the european parliament martin harlan is part of a team negotiating farming issues for the green party and he's preparing for him to bake scheduled for the next day we're going to rip his kite runner senior advisor on agriculture and rule development joints what he's saying to go over the strategy . with. him and i think we should try to push the point that the current agricultural challenges are going to get worse if things don't change the soil in fertility will drop further. after working with that yeah sure but that's why we have to emphasize that even more there are plenty of figures and supporting documents and the commission described the situation correctly that's appraisal so the question is why aren't we taking action yet ready. that should be enough for the 2 minutes this
is just because it's what we do here. 2 minutes is what martino weaselling will have to present his most important arguments to other members of the european parliament 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 ruin your country but there are still people sitting there saying now everything's ok if we can explain it in a different way they'll understand it and indeed us all. 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. albert dess is likewise preparing for the debate. dess is also chairman of buy or not and one of the biggest producers of dairy products in germany he takes
a skeptical view of investments in environmental protection. to discuss your mindless i find arguments calling for the farming sector to become more environmentally misled even when the it's ok if we said that from now on 20 percent of the land should be used environmentally before you get 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 finney said if the big question is which pharmacy receive support then the answer for me is the public funding should be for said this is 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. paid and. the different parties made their way over to the agriculture committee. will also be there and will face powerful opponents. of the olsen's 3 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 in export markets of thought mark to come. martin hoisting 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 desk is the c.e.o. of a major dairy producer. is an organic farmer. and maria noise is a former teacher. but if i'm not talking to him phil kogan is the european commissioner for agriculture and rural development and an advocate of area based subsidies. ensuring to ensure full standard of living for the community in particular where increasing the area is a person's inclusionary. one time for martine whistling to have his say. so how's things you know. shud post up to 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 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 2800 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. more 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 ram 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 euros.
one case that i've hunted for thought you come out short and about this is pretty simple because right now it's 20 euros per patient 0 if i sell $1000.00 pigs a year all i earn is 20000 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 come come in a $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 for 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 who tells him that it's insane it would mean even more liquid manure that needs distributed. 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.
yom to the 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 to fish one of. the excess manure ends up several 100 kilometers away on other farmer's fields liquid manure is a valuable fertilizer but there are simply too much of it what kind of system is this repeat 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 fervid biggest exporter of food. in order to survive marching rumsfeld to 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. on for bond thank you bob 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 a foot of the record most of the lot of people representing the union also sit on
the boards of b. companies including the collectors the lot and insurance for a truck 2 of them or and for the who i can't make sense of it i'm a 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 work weary 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 lower saxony where we meet a gun harms from the olden board waterboard for years he's found the nitrate levels in water just below ground to be worryingly high and $520.00. we're very concerned that the pollution we're currently only seeing below the surface well at some point seeps deeper than to the level we get our water from him
. 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. that i'm stocked up for. instead of recognizing the problem early on and working with us on solutions after they said there was no nitrate problem i mean a few of them still claim that one off that's the knowledge that the e.u. is 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 of 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 for manure we continually find ourselves up against the agribusiness lobby. and they've been managing to prevent stricter regulations for years. so for. tightening germany's fertiliser legislation to 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 and fluence is foreign 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. because. we began researching whose interests politicians in key positions are really representing and begin 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 groundwater 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. that's literally warm welcome to you all i would like to introduce our expert speaker and professor. from the christiane university in the rose to take to killing. 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 hearings but their findings were not adopted this. x. the problem is it's extremely problematic for a scientist to see how legislation is being based on deals here you want to find on levels of fact that are far removed from scientific knowledge up fun because after you know how is it. we're meeting professor talbot 2 years after the hearing he tells us the 27000 amendment regarding the nitrogen level has had enormous consequences. doesn't do it no consequence farmers can now use this additional amount of fertilizer this was not on the agenda beforehand but it was slipped into those negotiations right at the end with these if i don't with high horses 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 from the green party remembers the negotiations vividly didn't seem to move all that the christian democrats christian social union
people did was stall and. they torpedoed the whole thing with 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 pretty smile 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. does this mean some members of the agriculture committee are biased towards industry interests. austin dog thinks at least 2 members are. the all supports 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 fertilizer legislation instead they stalled proceedings massively each time claiming they were protecting their farmers i'd call it protecting the business interests. even shift. of quotes and comp was then chairman of the christian democrat group on the committee. you're gonna
square thing is his successor. in feb 2017 the german parliament voted on the fertilizer legislation. supposed some company took to the floor i'm confident of victory in. my. view i'm the best we've done something good for the future i ask you all to vote in favor think you're comfortable feeling that thank the legislation was passed with the conservative social democrat majority but then brussels announced its response 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 it was. back in cologne in $29000.00 we are researching which unspoken interests influence the vote in berlin it's how many politicians have ties to industry and which companies do they
work for. we need he don't issue it's a researcher from the university of blame on behalf of the nature conservation group in a b u it's took a closer look at leaders in the agriculture sector and to politicians and mapped out the various connections he found the following. high for stopping the political influence at the government level at least in the agricultural sector is wielded by individuals who are what you would call wealthy functionaries who wear a multitude of hats to all fields and that they represent associations in the agricultural sector 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. in body. form are going to talk member franciosa hoatson camp 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 rifle and 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 fertilizer years 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 a coincidence quotes income said he did not have time to be interviewed but he did provide a written response. as to your 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 and 2017 to concentrate fully on his work in the agribusiness sector. he was succeeded on the agriculture committee by johannes roofing like hudson camp nerving also works for a gravitas and was involved in negotiating the fertilizer amendment this multi functionary is reportedly one of the top earners in the bunch of stock. who is johana swerving the m.p. 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 during is on the board of trustees of quality 8 on city 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. boot 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 division. janusz berthing also works for fertiliser supplier a graphic where he sits on the advisory board. lingering 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. process 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 pluck now how she sees lobbyists in agriculture. the secondary posts of a lot of parliamentarians on the agriculture committee especially from the conservative faction are mainly within industry b. how do you ensure a balance of politic. this is my hadn't heard the mainly within industry if someone has their own farm and then. i'm talking about executive appointments at major agricultural corporations are going to stay on the as a scam well i know they get a condom and it isn't on any supervisory board to mark noise 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 in mouth clashed left. but how realistic is this when industry has such a strong influence on politicians bank accounts we go to bond 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. frog whether parliamentarians should be allowed to represent other interests is a question that's been around since the dawn of the parliamentary system. but in
the case of obvious industry interests and personal ties we do have to ask a critical question in vietnam could the far. 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 our german politicians regarding their various interests get on an issue it's spent 12 months analyzing how parliamentarians and lobby groups work in town. his research has laid bare the various connections. for a small humanity and that is that you need somebody to collect process and fact check this information 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 called his view on an entire that makes it pretty much impossible to see who is doing what the other where and why it. information is publicly available but the details are hard to decipher in berlin we visit the grain of vodka or green week it's one of the biggest events on the global agricultural trade fair calendar and a 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 you're 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. 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 an organic farmer and social democrat and former teacher maria noyes the commissioner defends the old system. so it is that right where costly it listen to directives other very far as to the hour for victory it really is the way it is if. it is for the provisions of articulatory of the treaty which that the objectives of the m.e.p. mocked hoisting voices his criticism of the system. if you don't think it i'm a little disappointed mr hogan. died 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 albert defends the policy by downplaying the amount of subsidies involved. if you take all the public expenditure in europe from brussels agriculture accounts for less than one percent we 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 it. just says we need to increase the amount of food exports in order to be able to feed the world listen to the fact that we have to boost productivity by 2056 the world will need 60 percent more food increasing productivity does not mean that the environment will be harmed look it's because you cannot empirically prove that. 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 deaths over the last 50 years the big. 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 buyer not which produces cheese for supermarket chains and for export and post annual sales in excess of 1000000000 euro 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 desks 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 your mind mr desk repeatedly uses the word we we're 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 you're chairman of this 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 duty to the public we're not here to get the best deal on behalf of a dairy company. not being mandated to ensure that farmers receive direct payments
with a minimum of conditions to feel what i am here for is to conduct agricultural policy for the entire population chroma 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'll get a picture of how the system works. the full 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. this 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. isn't. it also isn't going on for the committee is basically split 2 ways inside 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 riyadh 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 i'm right because. i
was a town council in rosenheim for over 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 their resigning 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 shift your 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 really this is that and. 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 e.u.'s common agricultural policy. in april 29000 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 fabio again he calls for more transparency in the system in brussels and berlin was. lobbying comes from various directions grandest part of the parliamentary system. but it has to be visible and not done in the shadows to come because if it happens covertly it was and is then suddenly exposed it damages public confidence. a foolish and missed call. to fabio thinks self-regulation is a sensible approach a kind of standardized conscience check what we learn 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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