On 6 June 2019 FEFAC celebrated its 60th Anniversary, with the theme “Resource Efficiency Champions of the Food Chain”. The event featured a key note speech by European Commissioner for Agriculture & Rural Development Phil Hogan and panel sessions on the challenges for the agricultural and livestock sector linked to sustainability and societal expectations.
Hogan thanked FEFAC for the valuable input to the European Protein Report (November 2018) and the updated Protein Balance Sheet from 20 May 2019. He pointed to home grown forages providing 45% of total feed protein consumed by EU livestock, showing a different perspective into the much-debated “EU protein deficit”. He also welcomed the FEFAC publication “Co-products, an essential part of animal nutrition” as a means to explain the sector’s ambition in the Circular Economy in support of climate neutral agriculture.
In his opening remarks, FEFAC President Nick Major highlighted the recent support by leading European feed companies for the FEFAC Soy Sourcing Guidelines in a public responsible soy declaration which is open for co-signature to all FEFAC members, as an example for the industry’s commitment to provide practical solutions to foster sustainable feed and livestock production.
In the 1st panel session on the EU protein challenge, John Clarke (DG AGRI International Trade Affairs), Jim Sutter (USSEC CEO), Pekka Pesonen (Copa-Cogeca Secretary General) and Nick Major assessed Europe’s aspirational goals to increase vegetable protein production through different instruments in the Common Agricultural Policy. They also discussed the state of play of US-EU trade relations, particularly regarding soybean imports. Jim Sutter highlighted the US soy farmers’ commitment to meet EU sustainability requirements, making reference to the successful USSEC-SSAP programme. Pesonen welcomed the existing EU CAP measures for farmers to grow protein crops, noting however that they are no panacea. He urged the incoming European Commission to clarify the situation around new breeding techniques which are desperately needed by farmers in order to tackle climate change impacts. This will only be possible, if some of them are kept out of the scope of GM legislation, based on their own merit in a case-by case evaluation.
In the 2nd panel tackling the climate change challenge, Jean-Louis Peyraud (Animal Task Force President) and Joao Shimada (Earth Innovation Institute) joined Pesonen and Major to discuss the potential and feasibility of emission reduction strategies for crop and livestock farming. The panellists highlighted the trade-offs between different livestock systems when it comes to perceived sustainability linked to animal health & welfare and GHG emissions. They highlighted the challenges for farmers to remain competitive if they are required to invest in sustainability and they stressed the need for a financial compensation mechanism for delivering public goods.
Jean-Louis Peyraud pointed to the need to relink crop and livestock production, which should seek to further increase the share in the feed supply chain of “non-human-edible” biomass which result from crop production and food processing. Joao Shimada highlighted the joint investigation with FEFAC on carbon-neutral soy production in Brazil.