Copa-Cogeca launched a major campaign – promoted under the hashtag #LivestockCounts – to champion the role Europe’s meat and livestock industry plays in generating jobs and growth. The campaign also highlights the role meat plays in a healthy diet, how livestock rearing protects the countryside from urbanisation, and also aims to dispel the bad farming practices hyperbolised by anti-meat campaigners.
The final point is crucial, as Copa-Cogeca fears negative campaigns highlighting rare examples of malpractice in abattoirs will push the public away from meat consumption.
“There are a lot of anti-meat campaigners who promote negative images on production practices, which is a minority – the majority of animals are kept in a good conditions and the EU has some of the highest welfare standards in the world,” a spokesperson from Copa-Cogeca told GlobalMeatNews.
“We want to promote the good practices. The aim is to promote a more positive image of farming and meat production.”
When pressed on providing an example of an anti-meat campaign, the spokesperson declined to specify, but added: “There are a lot.”
One recent example, albeit not in the EU, is footage that came to light last week showing cows being bludgeoned to death with a sledgehammer in a Vietnamese abattoir.
Copa-Cogeca launched its livestock counts campaign in April and the body hopes to run it until at least 2017. The campaign has already attracted the praise of a number of politicians, including French Member of European Parliament Michel Dantin.
He was quoted by Copa-Cogeca as saying the campaign was a “much-needed move” to challenge the anti-meat campaigners “who post negative and misleading images of the highly valued sector”.
Further profit difficulty
Events and farm open days are scheduled for every month of 2016–2017 to promote meat consumption. Recipe ideas will be circulated and Copa-Cogeca also has a number of videos under production to show what farmers are doing to tackle antimicrobial resistance and meet high production standards.
“The nutritious benefits of eating beef, veal, pork, lamb, poultry and eggs, goat meat and rabbit are all too clear, providing consumers with a good source of protein in their diet,” said Copa president Martin Merrild, referring to the campaign.
“Livestock farming is crucial, too, for the economies of rural areas where often no other source of employment exists. But we are up against increasing challenges, with commodity prices at an all-time low and input costs on the rise.”