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European Livestock supply chains criticize the Farm to Fork strategy

Today the launch of the international video appeal to the EU institutions/Video

Nine paradoxes identified in the strategy proposed by the European Commission for the implementation of the Green Deal in the agricultural sector. The President of Sustainable Meat responds to EFA News.

Presented today live by the Brussels Press Club “The 9 paradoxes of the Farm to Fork”, the appeal of the European livestock supply chain to actively participate in the challenge of Farm to Fork sustainability. Born from an initiative of Carni Sostenibili, the Italian organization that brings together associations representing meat and cured meats producers, and European Livestock Voice, the organization that brings together European bodies in the livestock sector, the video was launched simultaneously in 7 European countries: Belgium, Italy, France, Spain, Germany, Portugal and Poland. An international and public message addressed to the members of the EU institutions who in recent months are working on the definition of the new programmatic plan that will guide the Union's agri-food policies for the next decades. The video appeal highlights how, despite good intentions, the Farm to Fork strategy does not consider the current situation and the challenges of the livestock sector, which asks to be actively involved in the great green transition process underway. The paradoxes identified reflect misconceptions and prejudices surrounding the livestock sector in terms of the environment, health and the economy. They reveal inaccuracies in the understanding of many arguments.

Environment, health and economy. Here are the fundamental passages collected in the video-appeal and from which to start again to rethink the role of animal husbandry within the European system: value of meat as a food for human development; constant land use for breeding activities over the last 60 years against an increase in the European population of 125 million individuals; primacy of sustainability of the European livestock sector, which with 7.2% of greenhouse gas emissions, already today has a half impact compared to the world average (14.5%); protection of the territory, to avoid hydrogeological instability and loss of biodiversity. And again: the need to protect the sector in order not to be in the conditions of having to import from non-European countries, with obvious repercussions to the economy and the environment, also considering the interconnection of animal husbandry with numerous strategic supply chains, food and non-food, milk, eggs, leather goods, cosmetics, biomedical, natural fertilizers, pet food, biogas and biofuels); animal welfare guarantee whose legislation is among the most advanced and complete in the world; close relationship between livestock farming and less use of chemical fertilizers; safeguarding of jobs: each farm guarantees 7 jobs; meat and cured meats as a gastronomic and cultural heritage; food security and availability for the growing world population, which will increase by 2 billion over the next 30 years. In 2050, about 70% of the world's population will live in urban areas and only a small percentage of the remaining 30% will be responsible for producing the food needed to feed those who live in cities. It is therefore easy to understand the risks that Europe would face if the yields of livestock and related agricultural activities were to drop.

“Today 40% of the entire European agri-food sector is made up of the livestock sector which is worth about 170 billion euros and directly employs more than 4 million people. Starting from this assumption, the Farm to Fork strategy, part of the European Green Deal, can be an opportunity to enhance the results achieved by the European agricultural and livestock system: the challenge is in research, innovation, technology, to guarantee production sufficient to respond to the growing world demand for food using fewer resources”, said Professor Giuseppe Pulina, president of Carni Sostenibili, who spoke this morning at the presentation to the international press. "Today, those who work in the animal husbandry sector have the duty to help decision-makers not to waste the great opportunity of orienting the agri-food system over the next 10 years".

EFA News spoke during the conference: "Prof. Pulina, you referred to the quantity of soil destined for livestock, which has been stable for 60 years despite the increase in production. The Commission specifies, however, that this is 68% of all land intended for agriculture: wouldn't it be appropriate to reduce this enormous amount of land intended for farming?". "Thanks for the question, which helps clarify a crucial point of our video", Pulina replied. "The figure you cite as a percentage is correct. Still, in absolute terms, agricultural land in Europe totals 161 million hectares, of which about 110 million hectares (in fact, 68%) are used for livestock farming. But of these, 39 million are used to cultivate cereals, mostly extensively, and oilseeds used also for humans, and over 70 million of hectare are meadows. If we abandon livestock farming, these meadows will partly have to be converted into cultivated fields to produce vegetables, with all the consequent environmental impacts, mainly carbon release from the soil. In part, they will be abandoned because they are located in hilly areas not useful for cultivation. And abandonment will inevitably lead to hydrogeological instability and drop of biodiversity, thought that natural pastures are the area with the higher agrological diversity".

“Animal farming has been accused of many evils, but it is right to underline the numerous measures already in place and the substantial progress made by everyone in our sector. And it is a work in progress. The videos we launch today reflect the reality of animal husbandry and aim to dispel some clichés, many of which unfortunately already existed before the Farm to Fork strategy was planned. It is essential to make our voices heard, because we want to be part of the current process that will determine the future, and because we want to make ourselves available to share our knowledge and experiences with policy makers, during the ongoing discussions on F2F”, said Birthe Steenberg, general secretary of AVEC (European Poultry Association), speaking on behalf of the European Livestock Voice.

Attached is the paper "The 9 paradoxes of the Farm to Fork".

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EFA News - European Food Agency
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