In April, we published a report showing the millions of euro of public money the EU pays to promote the consumption of meat and dairy products – a third of their entire promotional budget for farm products. The EU bankrolls ads for these meat and dairy products, even as science unequivocally recommends a significant reduction in meat and dairy consumption and a shift to eating more fruit and vegetables. The report, titled “Marketing Meat”, called on the EU to end public funding for the promotion of meat and dairy products to protect the health of people and the planet.

The report was well-received in the national and European media and has prompted further debate in Brussels as well. Even the EU’s Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski chipped in with a lengthy statement on Twitter. But no one seemed to be more upset about Greenpeace exposing that the EU spent a quarter of a billion euro promoting meat and dairy than Copa-Cogeca. The meat and dairy lobby giant claims to “ensure that EU agriculture is sustainable, innovative and competitive.” Despite its mission statement, the lobby group refuses to recognise the terrible impacts that increasing industrialisation of animal farming in the EU has on public health, nature and the climate.

Two weeks after the release of our report, the chairman of “Copa-Cogeca’s working Party on Promotion Policy” uploaded a dramatic opinion piece. The opinion piece is littered with too many bad-faith and strawman arguments to entertain, but the core of his argument is the claim that the EU’s promotional funding for different food and farming sectors is proportional to the current value of each of those sectors. Meaning, he thinks EU funding is perfectly adapted to maintaining the status quo – overproduction and overconsumption of meat and dairy. Unfortunately, putting our heads in the sand while the climate and ecological crises are unfolding is not an option – change is needed.  

Greenpeace is calling on the EU to end the many different forms of support it gives industrial animal farming, and to instead support ecological, small-scale farmers in Europe, while helping conventional farmers to transition to ecological methods. Copa-Cogeca prefers to maintain business as usual and that means protecting massive industrial meat and dairy producers – not helping small farmers as they like to say.  

Copa-Cogeca’s opinion piece also featured a cartoon that suggests that calls by Greenpeace and others to reduce meat and dairy consumption automatically equate to support for “lab meat” or processed industrial foods. It seems we struck a nerve, so we decided to share our own, more accurate, version of the cartoon. 

This morning, we decided to go a bit further. We took a bike ride around Copa-Cogeca’s headquarters in Brussels, with a billboard showing some truthful advertising about the EU’s promotional funds for meat and dairy. 

The debate is timely, as the EU is about to review the promotion policy currently funding meat and dairy advertisements. Greenpeace is calling on the European Commission to propose concrete steps to shift European diets and farming towards less and better meat and dairy. You can join us and tell the Commission to end public support for the promotion of industrial meat and dairy products in its public consultation – open until 23 June.