Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann (Greens) wants to respond in October to the "Save the Bees" referendum. What might a government alternative look like?
Stuttgart – Criticism of the "Save the Bees" referendum, which has been collecting signatures for more species protection for nearly three weeks, has increased significantly lately. On top of that, farmers were in total opposition, and even Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann, although a green and biologist, spoke of the shortcomings. He wants to present an alternative in the next few weeks. But how does criticism catch fire and what could be in the alternative proposal? We answer the most important questions about the current Volksbegehren Artenschutz.
What does the referendum want?
Initiators demand that by 2035 half of the agricultural land in the southwest is organically managed. In addition, no more pesticides should be used in half of the areas by 2025. But they stress that this should not seem like a ban, rather farmers should be given incentives to switch voluntarily. If the requirements are not met, then politics, but not agriculture, can be initiated in most cases.
What criticism does Kretschmann make?
Part of the bill is that pesticides in nature or bird sanctuaries can no longer be used – in those areas the initiators are actually a ban. But since a third of the agricultural area is in such protected areas, many farmers are threatened with their existence, according to Kretschmann. Conservationists are looking for different considerations: Only those pesticides that are contrary to the purpose of protection are prohibited – certain sprays are still used on many surfaces. But they are ready to discuss this issue because they understand that there is a real risk of heavy administrative burdens by granting and controlling exemptions.
What is the government doing now?
State Department spokesman Rudi Hoogvliet confirms that Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann is now internally encouraged to come up with an alternative. Currently, the CDU-led Ministry of Agriculture and the Green-led Ministry of the Environment are developing key points. Then the paper in the cabinet and fractions should be discussed. Obviously, efforts are being made to remove "prevailing bans on pesticides" in protected areas, Hoogvliet says. In addition, it could be imagined to include other areas than just burdening farmers. For example, it could also be a ban on gravel gardens.
If possible, the result should be presented to the public in October – an ambitious goal, given that the dispute between the two ministries over the current pesticide reduction strategy has been ongoing for more than a year; The CDU in the first version did not want to call any targets. Whether the state will then submit an alternative bill or prefer a different procedure is still open, says Rudi Hoogvliet. The initiators of the "Save the Bees" referendum should then consider how they handle the alternative proposal. If you were to accept this in terms of content, it would also be possible to imagine an early termination of the referendum.
Isn't design short at all?
Farmers' associations and some scientists find the referendum too one-sided. Other causes of species extinction, such as impoverished landscapes or Lichtsmog, have not been taken into account. The initiators contradicted this in part, at least in part: The draft contained orchard protection to preserve precisely this important habitat for many insects and birds.
Does the market bear so much eco products?
Currently, 16 percent of the area is managed organically. With more support, such as organic products in canteens, organic product sales could increase further, so initiators. Three of the five organic farming associations support the referendum; the largest Bioland association sees "certain difficulties" and lingers, but finds the course correct. Farmers, on the other hand, fear that they will be blown away by the devastating price war, especially with foreign countries.
Can you do without pesticides?
The State Farmers Association says very clearly: no. That's why he recently made his own request for days, but has no specific goals. On the other hand, referendum initiators assume that sprays are the main cause of killing insects. Organic farming makes it possible to work without pesticides.