Those concerned about the environment know the huge cost meat production exacts on the planet. By one measure producing animal protein requires up to 17 times as much land as vegetable protein, up to 26 times as much water, and up to 7 times as much phosphate, a dwindling natural resource. One study calculates that one kg of beef could generate 70 times the emissions of one kg of grain.
This is one of the reason Swiss parliamentarian Beat Jans (PS / SP) requested an end to the subsidies the Swiss federal government provides to advertise meat products. According to him the CHF 6 million spent is not only at odds with the government’s aims of promoting healthier eating and reducing climate change but amounts to “throwing money out the window”. The agricultural land required for a vegetarian diet is a fifth, and importing animal feed contributes to Amazonian deforestation.
Jans also pointed out this money is on top of other agricultural subsidies.
According to the OECD, in 2015 Switzerland had the highest farm subsidies in the world, when measured as a percentage of gross farm receipts (62.39%). Switzerland’s federal government spends around 5% of its budget subsidising farming.
Despite Beat Jans’ plea, Switzerland’s national council, or parliament, rejected his call by 115 votes to 60. This follows a similar rejection of his plan by the States Council, or upper house.
One justification offered for maintaining Swiss meat advertising subsidies, advanced by Céline Amaudruz (UDC / SVP), was that they help to promote Swiss meat in favour of meat produced by foreign farmers. Another was the need to support sales of Switzerland’s high-priced meats and reduce cross-border shopping.