The Save the Bees initiative continues to collect signatures, while the farming associations themselves wrote the referendum. What’s next in the conservation debate?
This should not be opposed to the "Save the Bees" referendum, but a kind of message in the sense of "We are there too": a popular request to "Protect our environment", four agricultural associations announced this Wednesday.
The approaches are quite different: Although the bee initiative to protect the species' hard claims of the listed species – halve the use of pesticides by 2025, zero pesticides in protected areas, 50 percent organic farming – dominate the popular application of soft farmer formulations. The state government should develop "measures and incentives", then "promote effective plant reduction strategies" rather than bans, establish support programs and promote "demand-driven eco-sector", promote the importance of regional nutrition in education and so on.
"Of course this is not very accurate," Kilian Schneider, president of the Baden Wine Association, said at a meeting of the SPD Breisgau-Hochschwarzwald on Wednesday night. "But it's about bringing the state legislature back and putting us in the game." In addition, farmers may not respond to facade initiative numbers. "We cannot simply say that instead of abolishing pesticides, 50 or 30 percent would be sufficient," says Padraig Elsner, spokesman for the Baden Agricultural Federation. "There is not even evidence that pesticide reduction is a key criterion for species conservation."
While a popular referendum like Pro Biene has a new law as its goal, the referendum is just asking Landtag to respond to a topic. The request must be signed by at least 0.5 percent of eligible voters. Farmers' associations want to achieve this in Stuttgart and that's when their interests are on the table. Otherwise, he fears, he would be left with a yes or no in the referendum. This can be passed by the state parliament and thus prohibit the use of pesticides and biocides in protected areas such as Kaiserstuhl. Or he rejects the wish – then a referendum comes. This could be decided mainly in cities in favor of Pro bees, so fear farmers.
Not everyone believes this process is inevitable. "A lot will happen by March," suspected SPD MP Gabi Rolland. For example, a state government, parliament, or both can draft their own. Or even, as the Prime Minister thinks, everyone who attended the big roundtable. "Perhaps we are trying to create a broad social consensus in parallel to the referendum," said CDU Member of Parliament Patrick Rapp, "to find out what would be viable alternatives to biodiversity conservation and regional agricultural production."
If that were the case, the state parliament could reject the "Save the Bees" referendum and then compare its own draft in a later referendum with Pro Bee's concerns. And there is another scenario: Pro Biene initiators are so impressed with the alternative proposal that they withdraw their referendum. "But right now I don't think that's likely," says Patrick Rapp.