BLOG - Farmer’s competitiveness is the foundation for meeting the Sustainable Development Goals and CAP objectives

A lot has already been said about the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), published in September 2015, but I believe it is time for the EU livestock sector to fully embrace these ambitious targets of great societal importance. The FAO already illustrated that livestock farming can be linked to all 17 goals and the feed industry should openly communicate on what we have to offer and where we can make the difference.

There are numerous examples where our expertise and capacities can make a difference in realising the SDGs in a livestock farming context. Enhanced farm biosecurity in combination with innovative animal nutrition strategies can contribute to the reduction of antimicrobial resistance at farm level through sustained animal health. Improved environmental performance in animal production through resource efficient use of feed can allow livestock farmers to lower their costs and environmental footprint, a clear “win-win”-outcome. The feed industry is also making headway in terms of responsible consumption & production with the FEFAC Soy Sourcing Guidelines. For the complete overview of solutions, I advise people to take a look at the FEFAC 2030 Feed Industry Vision.

“Livestock farming needs to be a commercially viable profession if society expects farmers to invest in environmental services or animal welfare”

When the word “sustainability” is used, climate action is the SDG that will spring to mind for most people. But in the context of the discussions on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), I would like to first and foremost point to SDG1 – No Poverty, making clear that decent farm incomes are the foundation for all of the other goals. Livestock farming, so often at the heart of the rural economy, needs to be a commercially viable profession if society expects farmers to invest in environmental services or animal welfare.

The CAP should ensure that livestock farmers are in a position to invest in the future of their business and don’t just struggle to survive. To this end, they should have the possibility to manage their financial risk and be able to have access to competitive, safe & sustainable feed, which is dependent on the predictability of a science-based legal framework and the unconditional access to feed materials on the internal and global market. As an alternative, we would need to see a genuine connection between citizen expectations and consumer patterns, ensuring that these investments are paid for through the supply chain.

Nick Major, FEFAC President