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ANABIC: the debate on livestock farming cannot be ideological

ANABIC: the debate on breeding cannot be ideologicalIt is essential to read the scientific data well, the true and incontrovertible. So says ANABIC director Stefano Pignani, who in defence of the sector brings the results of surveys conducted by the most authoritative research institutes, starting with Ispra

22, Aug 2023

“If the confrontation starts from an ideological conviction, there can be no room for an objective debate. The livestock sector, and that of cattle in particular, has long been in the eye of the storm, guilty according to some of producing the highest percentages of climate-changing emissions. However, the results of studies by the most authoritative scientific institutes tell us that this is not the case. And it is on these bases that we would like to confront and discuss serenely with those of the opposite opinion".

This was declared by Stefano Pignani, director of ANABIC (National Association of Italian Beef Cattle Breeders), the Association that represents the Chianina, Romagnola, Marchigiana, Maremmana and Podolica breeds and which has 5,000 associated farms, distributed in 18 regions for a total number of 160,000 livestock, 70% of which are raised on pasture, where their presence constitutes an irreplaceable safeguard of the territory especially for the protection of biodiversity.

“If we want to provide the public with clear and correct information – says Pignani – we can only start from the data. Those that an important Institute like Ispra, just to name one of the most authoritative, periodically publishes by collecting and analyzing the information arriving from all production sectors. Obviously including agriculture and livestock. Well, in the document published last May, the Higher Institute for Environmental Protection and Research underlines that in the period 1990-2021 the emissions of methane produced by cattle farms recorded a reduction of 14.2% both thanks to the food rations supplied to livestock, both due to the drop in the number of animals reared which decreased by 24% and passed from 7.8 to 5.9 million heads, with a more marked decrease, -39%, for dairy cows, while cattle from beef decreased by 17%.

Still the Ispra data - continues Pignani - tell us that in 2021 the emissions produced by Italian agriculture did not exceed 7.8% of the total, while those generated by the dairy and beef cattle sector stopped at 4.1 % of the total. Nonetheless, the livestock sector does not exempt itself from its responsibilities, aware as we are that we can and must improve in order to adequately respond to the increasingly essential criteria of environmental sustainability today. What we ask for and would like to see is an objective comparison, based on a correct reading and communication of scientific data, free from any ideological conditioning between those who would like to justify, for the good of society and the environment, the need to abandon farms livestock, especially cattle, and those like us who are convinced of the opposite.

Another example of data distortion on cattle breeding which instead requires a correct analysis, is that relating to the use of water necessary to produce meat. Also in this case - underlines Stefano Pignani - we can cite an authoritative source such as the European Livestock Voice, the working group which at European level brings together associations and federations that deal with breeding, nutrition and animal health and which in a recent article states that of the estimated 15,000 liters of water needed to produce one kg of beef, a value often reported to justify the lack of environmental sustainability of cattle farms, 93%, therefore almost 14,000 litres, comes from the rains that wet the fields where they are produced crops intended for livestock feed. Also in this case - continues the director of ANABIC - this statement is the result of accurate analyzes associated with a report by the FAO on the basis of which if the rains are eliminated from the calculation of the estimated water consumption to produce 1 kg of meat, actual water consumption by farms does not exceed 8%. Here - concludes Stefano Pignani - from here we should start for an objective comparison. Without forgetting that the zootechnical sector, and that of beef cattle of Italian breeds represented by ANABIC in particular, has its roots in traditions that have been handed down from generation to generation, speaks of a millenary relationship between animals, man and the environment in which the livestock is raised and represents a heritage rich in value and culture, a safeguard for the territory and, last but certainly not least, a very important economic item which it is unthinkable to be able to do without".

National Association of Italian Beef Cattle Breeders

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