Commission publishes study on the future of EU livestock
A new external study on the ‘Future of EU livestock: How to contribute to a sustainable agricultural sector’ has been published by the European Commission.
The new study focuses on the future of the EU livestock and “covers the livestock sector’s economic importance, its environmental challenges and its role in the transition towards more sustainability”, according to the commission.
The report points to the importance of the sector, what actions it can take to reduce emissions, and the importance of governance to ensure continuity of farm businesses.
Published yesterday (Wednesday, October 14), the study was prepared by two independent experts.
The report highlighted that livestock plays a key role in European agriculture production, its economy and rural vivality.
The commission notes the report’s findings that 47 million tonnes of meat have been produced in 2017 in the EU, comprised of pig meat (50%), poultry meat (31%), beef (17%), and sheep and goat meat (2%).
The EU is now the world’s second largest producer of meat, far behind China but ahead of the US, it was added
In terms of consumption, protein of animal origin covers over 50% of the total protein content of European diets.
Turning to environmental challenges, according to the European Commission, the study describes the significant environmental impact of the livestock sector both in positive and negative terms.
In 2017, the EU-28 agricultural sector produced 10% of the region’s total greenhouse gas emissions, which is less than industry (38%) or transport (21%).
Almost half of the agricultural emissions arising within the EU come from enteric fermentation (mainly ruminants) and the management of manures (all livestock).
The sectors are engaged in initiatives to reduce their carbon footprint. EU-28 agricultural greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions decreased by 24% between 1990 and 2013.
In terms of increasing sustainability in the livestock sector, the study highlights the EU livestock production’s efficiency.
If production is reduced in the EU, the risk – if global demand for meat is sustained or increases – is that production and the associated impacts are displaced from the EU to other parts of the world, it was noted.
“In addition, simply reducing EU livestock production might not lead to more sustainable agri-food chains,” the commission noted.
The study also points to the importance of governance to ensure continuity of farm businesses and avoid putting employment at risk during the transition to sustainable livestock systems.