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Promoting a sustainable livestock sector in Europe

Focus areas

Sustainability issues
Sustainability is a broad concept that refers to ways of production that are socially acceptable, economically viable and environmentally positive. Current issues for a sustainable Europe include combating and adapting to climate change, resource-use efficiency, a healthy economy, food security and societal welfare. Livestock production contributes to all these important areas.
We focus on finding ways to minimise or even eliminate the effects of animal production on our environment. Optimise animal production and adapting it to often harsher conditions is an urgent task, and one that must be pursued on a global and collaborative basis.
Many factors will change over the coming two decades, and combating and adapting to global climate change will undoubtedly focus our attention more and more. To create new alternative production systems that are more sustainable, a holistic approach that includes every aspect within the livestock supply chain is essential. It includes enhancing crop, pasture and compound feed production; improving digestive efficiency; create well adapted and healthy animals; and optimizing the food distribution circuit.

Biobased economy
The livestock sector is vital part of a biobased economy or bioeconomy that integrates climate objectives, security of food supply, and economic perspectives. To realise a biobased economy in Europe, further developments in the livestock sector are needed. There are many opportunities for innovation to a more resource efficient society that relies more strongly on renewable biological resources to satisfy consumers' needs, industry demand and tackle climate change. Think about how agricultural waste products can serve as feed, or how manure can be turned in the biogas. To ensure innovation we stimulate new technology development and integrated approaches between the different parts in the agricultural sector.

Food quality, food safety, food security
Producing high quality, safe and sufficient food, now and in the future is an absolute priority. To be able to do that we need new systems that are more efficient. Creating new systems provides further opportunities. For example, it can permit a ‘nutritional profile agenda’ to be incorporated, increasing the concentrations of beneficial compounds in the final product for better human health.

Animal health and animal welfare
The animal is a central component of the production systems.. On tomorrow’s farm, animals must be healthy, balanced and robust. A balance that matches production demands with ethical farming procedures has to be found. A robust animal will cope with all challenges posed by the farming environment.
Setting the correct selection goals and providing an adequate breeding system with access to a balanced diet can achieve this. Careful attention to pre-emptive measures will optimise health and this will limit our appeal for pharmacological or veterinary interventions. The deployment of new, non-invasive tools and surveillance methods will relieve pressure on the farmer and provide aids for decision-making. This will improve the working environment and optimize the performance of the farming system.
The possibilities offered by genomic selection open the way for the generalized breeding programs. They will be able to create trade-offs between potentially antagonistic traits such as fertility, health, and production performances. This has already been successfully applied in the major poultry breeding programs and is being applied too in the major livestock species.
Furthermore a wider adoption of the epidemiological approach to disease control and management is needed. Animal diseases know no frontiers and more opportunistic pathogens will spread.

Finding new technologies that are acceptable to society
Our work involves discussing and tackling controversial issues. These include the ethics of using animals and new technologies that give rise to ethical considerations such as cloning and other new biotechnologies. It is essential that new technologies that produce new knowledge are studied experimentally and independently, since the primary intention is to stock the knowledge base.

Building competence
Implementing new systems will require new skills. Typical aspects of these new systems, like maintaining water supplies, drainage, ventilation, and surveillance systems, call for changes in the way we teach animal farming. Since we will need new farmers for these new systems, the new teaching must be available in initial training, but also in the lifelong learning systems that target adult education.
To get maximum impact from our education in this sector, we need European certification for the entire range of skills needed to operate the new systems, like extensive farming or groundless systems. This will allow greater mobility and better knowledge exchange across EU Member States, and will also encourage a more uniform and higher level of skills. This will finally feed through to better and more uniform product quality. Knowledge exchange between European Member States.

News Headlines

2017 ATF events - 08 June 2017
ATF-EAAP Special Session
28 August 2017
Tallinn, Estonia

ATF annual Seminar
26 October 2017
Brussels, Belgium


2nd White Paper of ATF - 06 February 2017
2016 was an important year for the European Horizon2020 research agenda setting. The ATF has worked all year long on a Second White Paper (2016) of suggested priorities for research and innovation for the Horizon2020 2018-2020 Work Programme.
Today, we are pleased to announce that the Second White Paper is now available.
This update of the First White Paper (2013) and Addendum (2014) was prepared by the Animal Task Force Presidency and members. It was largely inspired by a dialogue with key stakeholders and institutions in Europe and through the participation of various events related to the European research and innovation agenda and policy setting, to provide a consulted contribution from the animal production sector to the agenda setting for research and innovation.

2nd White Paper
Appendix 2 of the 2nd White Paper


Roadmap for Sustainable EU Livestock. - 30 June 2017

Making food production more sustainable is one of the greatest challenges of our times. In the face of global population growth, increased demand for animal protein, and climate action commitments, we need to ask ourselves how the EU livestock sector can become more sustainable? How can more be produced with less?
Official website 

Environmental sustainability of livestock production - 14 February 2016

Following the first debate entitled “Environmental sustainability of livestock production” organised by ELANCO, EU40 presented “Sustainable EU Livestock Actions Towards an Innovative, Climate", at the European Parliament, Brussels, 27 April 2016. We are pleased to share the ppts and videos of the event, below:


Videos: Overview of the session:

Interview with the ATF President Mr. Jean Louis Peyraud:

 read more ...

WAFL2017 - 21 November 2016
7th International Conference
on the Assessment of Animal Welfare
at Farm and Group Level

5-8 September 2017

Wageningen, The Netherlands

Official website here