There is a widespread agreement in the National Council that Swiss farmers must reduce the consumption of pesticides and antibiotics. It is controversial for this to happen. Drinking Water and Pesticides Initiative is the wrong way for most.
The National Council concluded on Thursday a debate held on the previous day. He decided to recommend both refusal initiatives. At the initiative for potable water, he said with 130 to 58 votes No, a pesticide ban from 131 to 54 votes.
Two initiatives strive for the same goal in a variety of ways: more ecology in agriculture. The initiative "For Switzerland without synthetic pesticides" calls for the ban on synthetic pesticides in agricultural production, processing of agricultural products and the preservation of soil and landscapes. It is also forbidden to import food produced from or containing synthetic pesticides.
The Drinking Water Initiative starts with the money. It requires that only farmers receive subsidies that give up pesticides, preventive or systemic antibiotics and purchased food. Agricultural research, advice and training should also receive money from the federal government only under these conditions.
According to the president of the association of farmers Markus Ritter (CVP / SG), the initiatives are "extremely anti-business". He warned of crop decay and rising prices. More food should be imported from abroad. Since cocoa and coffee are difficult to import, thousands of jobs will be lost in the manufacturing industry. And gastronomy and the hotel industry will be severely affected.
Many farmers' representatives also point to the progress made in recent years. The consumption of pesticides, pesticides and antibiotics has been drastically reduced. Everywhere you can drink water from the line and swim in the water.
"Patience is over"
Opponents of the initiative also expect further progress from the Plant Protection Fund Action Plan, the Antibiotic Resistance Strategy, and the measures announced by the Federal Council on Agricultural Policy since 2022 (AP22 +). "Agriculture has acknowledged that development is necessary," said Bernese farmer Andreas Aeb (SVP).
But in ecological circles, there is a lack of faith in the good will of farmers. "Our patience is slowly coming to an end," GLP head coach Tiana Moser (ZH) said. "The intentions and promises did not help," said Consumer Representative Prisca Birrer-Heimo (SP / LU). Beat Jans (SP / BS) recalled that the farmer's organization rejected almost all the measures proposed at AP22 +.
Since these two initiatives go too far for many SPs, Green and Green Liberals, Jans has proposed their rejection to the Commission. This should put together an indirect counter-argument. The necessary legal adjustments should be made together with farmers, cantons and drinking water suppliers, Jacqueline Badran (SP / ZH) asked. "That would be a real problem solving and true consent."
The goal of an indirect counterweight was to halve the risks of using plant protection products by 2030 and promote alternative chemical plant protection. In addition, it would be necessary to improve the protection against harmful effects of pesticides and reduce the introduction of foreign substances into groundwater.
"The Biggest Waterloo"
This approach was supported by FDP and CVP members. Kurt Fluri (SO) reminded of the alarming findings of water experts and water suppliers. More and more water sockets should be closed. With regard to the status of potable water in Switzerland, the rejection without a counterweight represents a "high risk strategy".
Bernhard Guhl (BDP / AG) expressed sympathy for binding measures. Cedric Wermuth (SP / AG) had no understanding of the categorical number of shooters. Cantonal environmental directors, water suppliers, consumer patrons, fishermen's associations, major distributors, and even bourgeois young people support an indirect counter-argument. "This will be the biggest Waterloo for their industry," warned Wermuth farmers.
"It really matters"
Nevertheless, the National Council voted 111 to 78 against the rejection, and thus against the indirect counter-argument. He equally dismissed two direct counter-attacks.
One of them started with direct payments such as the Drinking Water Initiative. Farmers should also meet environmental conditions in order to benefit from subsidies. They were less strict than the initiative. However, as opposed to them, the anti-countermeasure should also include nitrogen emissions.
Another possibility was to reduce the use of fertilizers, pesticides or animal medicines to a sustainable level. The goal of the reduction should be achieved by sectoral agreements by 2030. Otherwise, the Federal Council should be able to determine concrete measures. "Actually, of course," Berschy said.
The Federal Council also rejects initiatives and counter-protests. They went too far and would also violate Switzerland's international obligations due to a ban on imports, Agriculture Minister Guy Parmelin said. The Federal Council did not put its hands on the wing. Among other things, Parmelin reminded of the planned measures under the AP22 +. She wants to present her message by the end of 2019.