Opinions expressed in View articles are solely these of the authors.
With declining cattle numbers and rising ranges of imports, the face of European farming is altering dramatically. The EU’s agriculture insurance policies are heralding a metamorphosis within the continent’s livestock sector.
However many of those new insurance policies are failing to account for the huge strides in sustainability which have already been made, and proceed to be made, on European farms.
The typical European livestock farm now makes use of 34 hectares of agricultural land and has, in whole, a herd measurement of 47 animals, with a considerably diminished environmental affect consequently. Against this, half of all US milk manufacturing now comes from herds with greater than 900 cows.
Likewise, farmers have made huge strides in selling and making environment friendly investments into animal well being, which has the knock-on impact of making a extra sustainable and accountable business.
As an illustration, European farmers have made nice progress in eradicating infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR) and frequently spend money on monitoring expertise resembling ear tags, to make sure the meals they produce is high-quality, sustainable and protected.
These measures require a prerequisite stage of farmer’s earnings and usually are not available for all, which means extra assist for farmers to spend money on animal well being is required.
And but, though European farming is now assembly welfare and making headway to fulfill environmental expectations, it’s no longer feeding as many voters as earlier than.
This implies continued demand for meals imported from exterior the EU, bringing with it extra environmental and high quality assurance questions.
It’s clear that in selling a sustainable livestock business, EU policymakers additionally want to know the trade-offs of the insurance policies they’re implementing and should pay particular consideration to the sector’s financial viability.
With farmers all through Europe already working on tighter margins than ever earlier than, failing to take action might trigger hurt not simply to European farms and companies, but in addition the agricultural communities and continent-wide veterinary sector with which they’re intimately related.
Cautious administration key as sector embraces sustainability
European lawmakers should higher perceive the wide-ranging impacts of their insurance policies. To start with, we’d like insurance policies that replicate the realities of the livestock sector because it exists in Europe at the moment.
If at the moment’s herds lower even additional, they won’t produce as a lot plentiful and reasonably priced meals for European shoppers. This implies policymakers should guarantee new legal guidelines strike a steadiness between selling sustainability and assembly demand.
Secondly, we’d like higher administration of the trade-offs in selling sustainability within the sector, to make sure its long-term safety. Mismanagement of European sustainability-promoting measures just like the Farm to Fork technique might in the end result in a social, financial, and ecological catastrophe.
Lastly, farmers want confidence that livestock farming stays economically viable, and might coexist with rising sustainability initiatives.
With out this assurance, we run the chance of racing to the underside, with rising shortages of vets. This could result in lower-quality meat and dairy merchandise for shoppers, and a rising dependence on imported merchandise which will have various requirements.
Whereas we face the worldwide problem of local weather change, policymakers are proper to legislate for sustainability within the livestock sector. However this course of have to be rigorously managed, primarily based on the truth in Europe at the moment, and forward-looking, to make sure Europe’s farmers can proceed offering protected, prime quality, and nutritious meals for all.
Didier Delmotte is president of the European Federation for Animal Well being and Sanitary Safety (FESASS).