It is our mission to foster knowledge development and innovation for a sustainable and competitive livestock sector
in Europe. To realise this, we believe we need integrated approaches across food systems
. Knowledge institutes, farmers organisations and industry have to collaborate to contribute to the economic, environmental and societal challenges involved in our mission. In addition, we need to further develop our relationships with decision making institutions in the EU. Only by starting a dialogue common solutions can be found.
The Animal Task Force promotes interdisciplinary research bringing together research groups with complementary expertise (feeding strategies, animal breeding and genetics, nutrition, physiology and health, (ICT) technology, food evaluation, modelling, economics, sociology, multi-criteria evaluation). Research and Innovation should also involve a wide range of actors of the agri-food systems (farmers, upstream industry, machinery and robotics, dairy and meat industry) and of the territories. They should aim to improve all systems of production, including the sustainability of European intensive systems, low inputs systems, organic and agro-ecological systems.
We also encourage future development of livestock production systems from a perspective of ecosystem services together with holistic agriculture approaches that more closely link livestock and plant. This aims to better use and protect the properties of agro-ecosystems and to maximise the use of biomasses of plant and animal origins through recycling and cascading approaches. These holistic agriculture approaches also need to encompass the agro-ecological domain and would stretch to consumers' global health by integrating from the ecosystem of a healthy soil, plants and animals in good physiological and sanitary conditions and healthy humans.
The ATF foresees the future of European agri-food systems lies not on linear but on circular approaches, with an integrated and regenerative use of natural resources and associated agri-biomass. We believe that the share of protein of animal origin in sustainable diets that is nutritionally adequate, more respectful to the environment and culturally acceptable and affordable must be evaluated considering a holistic approach of nutritional recommendations and environmental performances.
A ”business as usual” approach is not sufficient to meet the challenges, a paradigm change is needed. Livestock farming must be part of a circular agriculture aiming to optimise the use of resources at farm, regional, national and even transnational levels while avoiding leakage of resources or pollutants. Management of animal health and welfare in the concept of One Health is a prerequisite for well-functioning circular and sustainable agri-food systems.
For more info, download the ATF Vision Paper
published in Feb. 2019.
Research and Innovation
Research and Innovation have contributed substantially to making Europe’s livestock sector as competitive and efficient as it is today while producing a diversity of safe and nutritious food. We strongly believe that it will continue to play a major role also in the future. Despite large increases in efficiency and sustainability at farm and value chain levels, livestock production is now increasingly questioned for its environmental impacts, potential health risks and ethical considerations. A challenge is to address consumers’ and societal expectations, environmental and climate impacts, human and animal health and welfare, reinforce global surveillance of emergence and transmission of pathogens while ensuring competitiveness and economic sustainability and safety of EU livestock production on global markets. This will require (sometimes major) improvements and changes in production, with a possible effect on production costs and consumption patterns as well. Besides relevant public policies, continued support for coordinated and integrated interdisciplinary R&I, and its effective, proactive implementation into practice and policy making are required to accompany this change.
We bring together the different parts of the European livestock sector, from feed and breeding to production and processing. By promoting knowledge exchange and cooperation, we serve as a catalyst for new developments. We strive for a joint European research agenda and enable our stakeholders
to create a shared view on what this agenda should look like. As a representative of the European livestock sector, we carry out this view to all relevant institutions in the EU to develop a dialogue. This way we serve as an interface between policymakers, knowledge providers, industry and civil society. We promote science-based solutions to address the major challenge of global food security in the context of limitation of global warming and resource use.