11/02/16 The VAT Rate Reduction on Plant Milks
Zdravko Maric, Ph.D., Minister of Finance
10 000 Zagreb
November 2, 2016
Dear Minister Maric,
Regarding the tax reform that will be implemented in a mandate of the new government, on behalf of the non-profit organization Animal Friends Croatia, I am writing to demand the VAT rate reduction on plant milks. Since the reduced VAT rate of 5 percent has already been applied to "all sorts of milk" and "substitutes for breast milk," we believe that this classification should also include substitutes for plant-based milk.
Plant milks are beverages produced from grains (oat, rice, spelt), legumes (soybean), nuts (almond, hazelnut), or seeds (coconut, hemp) that represent a substitute for animal milk. A significant part of the population chooses the above mentioned beverages as a replacement for animal milk for medical, environmental or ethical reasons. According to a 2007 public opinion research, over 50 percent of Croatian citizens would buy plant milks if their price was affordable.
The animal milk to which the reduced VAT rate has been applied is becoming more often the subject of scientific research due to concerns about its impact on human health and the planet. The consumption of cow's milk is associated with an increased risk of heart and cardiovascular diseases, certain types of cancer, especially breast and prostate cancer, and type 1 diabetes. Milk contains traces of antibiotics and hormones used during the cultivation and traces of other chemical contaminants, such as pesticides, herbicides and other toxins. It is estimated that 15% of white people are lactose intolerant, and cow’s milk is one of the most common allergens. For all the given reasons, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine does not recommend consumption of milk and dairy products as part of a healthy diet.
Milk production has a direct impact on climate change due to its significant contribution to greenhouse gas emissions from the livestock industry, which is estimated to be as much as 51 percent of total emissions. The industrial livestock production has a negative impact on the environment also due to large amounts of waste that pollute soil and water, as well as deforestation and destruction of natural habitat due to breeding, grazing, and excessive use of fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides in the cultivation of fodder. Milk production is also related to world hunger and to the problem of drinking water because the huge amount of water resources and grains which are used to feed cattle could easily directly feed a large number of people. Finally, as an animal rights organization, we ethically oppose breeding animals for human consumption and we are especially critical of the conditions in which animals are being farmed in the dairy industry.
Animal Friends Croatia believes that reducing the VAT rate should not benefit only one group of citizens, while the rest of the people who don't consume animal milk are subjected to unrealistically high prices for plant substitutes for milk, which are cheaper to produce and more environmentally friendly than breeding dairy cows. Therefore, we ask you to include plant milks in the meaning of the phrase "all kinds of milk."
Due to the fact that people in Croatia eat seven times more meat than during the time of Yugoslavia and that one in two Croatians dies of heart and cardiovascular disease, any incentive to increase the intake of fruits and vegetables is praiseworthy. Therefore, we appeal for the VAT rate reduction for other products of plant origin, especially fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes, which as a fundamental part of a healthy and balanced diet represent a basic need of Croatian citizens.
Thank you for your consideration and we look forward to your response. We would also be grateful for a brief meeting where we could present our efforts in the promotion of a sustainable diet and discuss ways of working together in the future.