European Livestock Voice is a multi-stakeholder group from all aspects of the livestock food chain, which have decided to unite “to balance the debate around a sector playing such an essential role in Europe’s rich heritage and future”.
The associations involved (see box), which represent sectors ranging from animal health to feed, to breeding and animal farming and farmers, aim to inform the public about the societal value of livestock production and its contribution to global challenges, offering an alternative narrative to current debates.
Meeting earlier this week in Brussels, the group set out its agenda in a statement. “The livestock sector is today at the epicentre of public debates in Europe and beyond. These debates have become dominated by interest groups who only want to spread myths and radical views about livestock farming. Ever increasing on social media and in the press, these myths and opinions end up portraying a picture that is in stark contrast with the reality experienced and lived every day by thousands of European farmers and professionals working with them on the ground.
“These debates have strong impacts on the views of European consumers on the role of animal products in their choice of lifestyle and they push the livestock sector into an extremely defensive corner of the society. It all negatively affects the EU livestock farming model and policy framework, increasing the challenges faced by our farming communities to ensure their economic viability, generational renewal and their capacity to adapt to societal and environmental demands.”
To help convey its message, European Livestock Voice has developed its own information hub, an online portal reviewing the accuracy of the most frequently made statements about livestock production, consumption and its benefits.
The initiative already has the support of several MEPs. MEP Alexander Bernhuber said: “The debate about livestock farming is often held on a lack of knowledge within the society. The gap between consumers and producers is getting bigger and bigger. European farmers produce at worldwide highest animal welfare standards. Nowadays the challenge is to communicate the essential work of our farmers via several channels to the consumer. European Livestock Voice created a significant platform to brighten this issue and fight against disinformation at European level. It is important to spread fact-based knowledge about today’s livestock farming within the media. Hence, I strongly support this initiative.”
MEP Jérémy Decerle, also a livestock farmer, added: “It could help to dispel some preconceived ideas about this profession and bring a little pragmatism into the debates. At a time when Europeans want to eat healthier and more local food, but also to better preserve their environment, farmers can be part of the solution rather than part of the problem, and the search for solutions begins with a comprehensive and rational look at the situation.“
Meanwhile MEP Clara Eugenia Aguilera García also welcomed the initiative and said that “given the ever-increasing number of misconceptions, more work is needed to restore a constructive and rational discussion around a sector so important to our rural areas, our environment and our future”.
AnimalhealthEurope – European manufacturers of animal medicines, vaccines and other animal health products
Avec – European Poultry Meat Sector
Clitravi – European Meat Processing Industry
Copa and Cogeca – European Farmers and European Agri-cooperatives
COTANCE – European Leather Industry
EFFAB – European Forum of Farm Animal Breeders
Euro Foie Gras - European Foie Gras industry
FEFAC - European Feed Manufacturers
FEFANA – European Specialty Feed Ingredients Industry
FUR EUROPE – European Fur Industry
UECBV – European Livestock and Meat Trades