Climate challenges facing the livestock industries
The livestock industries, particularly in developed countries, are facing an unprecedented number of challenges. Environmental and animal welfare concerns, together with lower population growth rates, mainly in developed countries, is leading to a stagnation in consumption of livestock products. Rising global awareness of the anthropogenic climate change has highlighted the relatively high environmental footprint of livestock production, in terms of water, nitrogen, deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions. Coupled with animal welfare concerns, the social licence for the livestock industries to operate is now increasingly challenged.
In contrast, the world’s rising middle class, predicted to reach 4.6billion by 2030 and largely based in developing or emerging economies, are demanding more animal protein in their diets as personal affluence increases. While this increased demand presents an inexhaustible market for the future of the livestock industries, there is a widening gap between the increasingly constrained operating environment for these industries in developed countries, compared to the relative lack of similar constraints in countries with these emerging markets. Throw into this mix the market potential for synthetic meat and the livestock industries face the perfect storm. The presentation will explore these issues and discuss options for the role of livestock in both a climate and food security challenged world.
Richard is Professor and Director of the Primary Industries Climate Challenges Centre (www.piccc.org.au), a joint research initiative between the University of Melbourne and Agriculture Victoria. He is a science advisor to the Australian, New Zealand and UK governments, and the UN FAO and European Union, on climate change adaptation, mitigation and policy development in agriculture. His research focuses on profitable and sustainable livestock production systems, nitrogen cycling and loss in agricultural grazing systems, with a recent focus on carbon farming and options for livestock production systems to respond to a changing climate. Richard is also a network leader of the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gasses and member of the Greenhouse Gas and Animal Agriculture international science advisory committee.