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Industrial emissions: reasons to exclude cattle farms from the EU directive

The CEO of Assocarni, François Tomei: 'Cattle stock reduced by 40% in 60 years'.

11, Jul 2023

Wednesday will be a decisive day in the European Parliament on many fronts. In addition to the "restoration of nature", there will also be a vote on the controversial directive that equates emissions from cattle farms to those from industrial plants. The zootechnical sectors of the whole European Union confirm their solid opposition to this assimilation.

The general director of Assocarni François Tomei who had already expressed the position of his association in March reiterated: “Allowing the equation 'farms = factories' to pass would not only represent the antechamber of the dismantling of the European livestock system which, as a whole, today it is worth 170 billion euros and directly employs more than 4 million people, but it could have disastrous results for the environment, the economy and food safety”.

In an interview with EFA News, Tomei then lists a series of scientific arguments by virtue of which cattle breeding does not deserve to be equated to polluting factories. Firstly, the general manager of Assocarni recalls that the bovine and buffalo herd on the European continent has dropped by 40% in the last 60 years, going from 193 million bovines in 1961 to 115 million today. On a global level, on the contrary, in the same sixty years, the same cattle and buffalo herd grew from 1 billion head to 1.7 billion. Furthermore, according to the 2021 EU inventory data, "the first sector by emissions is energy (27% of the EU total), followed by transport (22.5%) by industry (22%) and by residential consumption (13%), while agriculture ranks fifth with 11%”. That's not all: the Environment Commission does not take into account "the strong reduction in emissions from European farms which, from 1990 to 2020, fell by 23% (from 317 to 245 million tons of CO2e) and that those of enteric methane, gas particularly under accusation, by 22%”, underlines Tomei. In this context, then, Italy shows itself to be even more virtuous, from the moment in which "the agricultural sector accounts for 7.8% of the total climate-altering emissions and of these, only 4% are attributable to the meat and milk".

Another reassuring element on an environmental level are new studies which show that "livestock activities in the last ten years have not only had no impact on the environment, but have contributed to cooling the atmosphere with emissions recalculated cumulatively at - 49 million tons of CO2 equivalent".

And again: cattle farms "contribute to the protection of the territory and the fertility of the land in a natural way", preventing in particular "hydrogeological instability and the abandonment of marginal areas thanks to the constant presence of the breeder / farmer". The cattle sector is also a "perfect model of circular economy". From this supply chain “many products, by-products and co-products are obtained which are destined for various uses. In the agricultural phase - recalls Tomei - livestock manure is used by farmers to fertilize the land on which the rations necessary to feed the cattle are produced and are also indispensable as fertilizers in the production of organic crops intended for humans". Moreover, Italy is the 4th world producer of biogas after Germany, China and the USA.

In terms of food security, cattle farms contribute to satisfying the growing demand for food of animal origin which will see an increase of 30% by 2050. "It appears evident - observes Tomei - that zootechnical activities, first and foremost that of cattle breeding, they are not replaceable, but rather must continue in the direction already undertaken, produce more, more efficiently, with an ever better use of resources, in short, continuing in the direction of sustainability".

Last - but not least - the reason not to penalize cattle breeding lies in the fact that it represents more than 4.5% of the turnover of the Italian agri-food sector (excluding distribution and catering), for a value of over 9 billion euros (data Ismea), and involves more than 358,000 employees and over 133,000 farms active in all regions of our country. Therefore, its downsizing "would affect the competitiveness of the supply chain, already deficient by around 50%, making Italy dependent on third countries with environmental and quality standards very different from ours", concludes the general manager of Assocarni.

lml - 32840
Rome, RM, Italy, 10/07/2023 18:07
EFA News - European Food Agency

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