Is it that easy to deceive us consumers? Can farmers simply declare conventional fattening pigs expensive organic pigs – and then cash in?
Apparently it does!
A farmer from Leopoldshagen (650 inhabitants, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania) went unnoticed for two years.
Volker F. (40) bought conventional fattening pigs and sold them on as organic pigs. Their meat came to the end users who thought they had a particularly high quality schnitzel on their plate.
Between 2011 and 2013, the farmer sold 6,800 conventional fattening pigs as organic pigs, sneaking around 127 euros per animal – making a total of 864,658 euros.
A scandal! Just like the verdict of the Schwerin Regional Court: Volker F. received only a two-year suspended sentence for serious fraud and has to pay 25,000 euros.
And his father Rudi F. (73) was not punished at all, the proceedings were discontinued. The public prosecutor’s office could not prove that he was involved in the crime, although the 864,658 euros were in his account. According to the judgment, he has to repay the money – but will probably not be able to do so. He was insolvent in 2020 and had to foreclose his pigsty.
Fraud the order of the day
The case is not an isolated incident. “Fraud is an enormous problem in the entire food industry,” says Matthias Wolfschmidt (56) from the consumer rights organization Foodwatch. “Organic meat is a trustworthy asset. You can’t tell from a schnitzel or a kilo of minced meat what kind of pork it comes from. And the higher prices for organic meat attract fraudsters. “
Even today the differences are huge: For a conventional pig (class E), farmers currently receive 1.32 euros per kilo of slaughter weight, for an organic pig 3.95 euros – three times as much! (Source: Association of ecological food producers).
The fraudster from Leopoldshagen was rarely checked by inspectors. And his customers apparently did not notice that the ear tags of his animals came from other companies. The fraud was only noticed when the pigsty lessor became suspicious and filed a complaint.
The district court explains the lax judgment against the fraudster by stating that he had no previous conviction, that he confessed and that the time of the offense (2011 to 2013) was a long time ago. The public prosecutor’s office demanded two and a half years in prison, but also considers the suspended sentence to be justifiable – and therefore does not want to challenge the verdict.
Pig factory owner wants money from the state
At the end of March, Europe’s largest pig rearing facility burned down in Alt Tellin (MVP), and 50,000 pigs died.
Half a year after the disaster, the cause of the fire has still not been clarified. Animal rights activists have been fighting for a permanent closure of the controversial factory farming facility for months.
However, the operator “Landwirtschaftliche Ferkelzucht Deutschland” (LFD-Holding) is already planning the reconstruction. In return for the payment of a taxpayer-financed “closure premium”, such as the one available in the Netherlands or Denmark, the LFD-Holding would be willing to reduce its capacities. Then “conversions of the stables in the direction of more animal welfare through to production based on organic standards” would be conceivable.
The state should pay to ensure that fewer animals are tortured.