Joao Silva, from the European Commission’s DG Agriculture department, says there needs to be greater flexibility when it comes to applying green measures across the EU states.
“We do not need to have one scheme, we need to be flexible. We have to have a set of tools and then give farmers and member states the freedom to choose according to their needs,” he said.
He added that the industry had been hit hard by the FAO’s report ‘Livestock’s Long Shadow’ and the way the information was misused by various organisations, but noted that the conclusions of the report did not translate to livestock production in the EU.
On the other hand, he said, the report did raise important questions and prompted the EU to launch its own study, which concluded that EU livestock production accounted for a total of 9.1% emissions, rising to 12.8% when you included land-use change – considerably lower than the FAO claim of 18%.
Silva admitted there were limitations to the study, as it stopped at the farm gate, did not consider impacts from the consumer end, and a lot of the figures were based on estimates.
However, he added that any study based on biological systems was unlikely to be 100% accurate and that the industry needed to be careful to avoid simplified conclusions.
The EU has now launched the Animal Change project, a €9m scheme, which will be carried out over four years.
The project has a number of wide-reaching aims, which include reducing uncertainties surrounding greenhouse gas emissions within livestock production, developing new technologies to mitigate the impact and encouraging greater co-operation between stakeholders.