In this section we share opinion pieces from scientists, experts and livestock farmers, as well as letters of interest.

Opinion Piece by Joe Healy

A European tax on meat: a proposal that could be as simplistic as counterproductive!

Brussels, 19 May 2020 – Last February in Brussels, the Dutch TAPP coalition (True Animal Protein Price) launched a new report from within the European Parliament proposing to introduce a tax on meat products. On paper the idea may seem simple at a first glance. Indeed, according to the proponents, with one single tax we would be able to resolve three ‘problems’: limit meat consumption in Europe, reduce European livestock and redirect specific sectors towards practices that have a lesser impact. In two words: a silver bullet!

This “silver bullet” has now reached the head of the European Commission. Tomorrow, the European Commission is planning to unveil an important part of its flagship vision on the European Green Deal – the Farm to Fork Strategy. Amongst the many things that this strategy will address are consumption patterns and consumer dietary choices, targeting more specifically the consumption of meat. As far as we are aware of, the approach considered by the Commission suggests that we stop the promotion of meat products, stop stimulating their production and impose a more targeted use of tax rules on meat.

Had livestock farmers had their say, had we taken a step back to think about this question in the context of trade agreements or European treaties, ultimately, had we taken the time to analyse this, this proposal would have seemed a lot more problematic and quite simply counterproductive. It has to be said time and time again, there is no such thing as a quick fix in farming!

This opinion piece is authored by Joe Healy,
Vice President of Copa and dairy and livestock farmer from Athenry, Co. Galway (IE).

Opinion Piece by Johannes Charlier

An animal health scientist’s point of view on the alleged connection between food production and COVID-19

Brussels, 14 May 2020 – The crisis is a fact, the way out uncertain. We see the deadly virus as the very real and almost only truth and act accordingly. Almost every social, commercial and political act today starts from the COVID-perspective. The European Commission reprioritises its major research funding instrument Horizon 2020, the publication of the Commission’s Green Deal Farm to Fork Strategy is delayed and “should reflect the lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic in relation to food security”.

In the meantime, pressure groups use the global crisis to push their own ideological agenda. Animal right movements, but also some scientists and politicians claim (industrial) livestock farming to have a direct link with an increased probability of disease outbreaks impacting on public health.

So the explicit question follows: “Is there a link between the way we rear livestock in Europe and infectious disease outbreaks in humans?”. The short answer is “no”.

This opinion piece is authored by Johannes Charlier,
Project manager of DISCONTOOLS, a database with research gaps for infectious disease control in animals and founding manager of the animal health research & consulting agency Kreavet.

RECOGNISING Food Heroes in the face of a pandemic

Brussels, 20 April 2020 – Long queues at supermarkets and food shops. Half-empty shelves. Only a few products in refrigerators. When re-stocked, the items in much demand at our supermarkets are regularly seen to be the now infamous toilet paper, followed by essential foods such as meat, milk, eggs, bread, canned goods and pasta.

Open Letter – European Commission’s Farm to Fork Strategy needs to take the specificities and assets of the EU livestock value chain that we represent into account

Dear Commissioners, Dear decision and policy makers,

11 March 2020 – Representing a group of 11 Brussels-based organisations, the European organisations of the livestock chain welcome the European Commission’s ambition to transform our current agri-food system through the Green Deal and more specifically the Farm to Fork strategy. As responsible actors linked to livestock farming, the whole system is willing to drive changes towards greater sustainability. The livestock sector is hotly debated when it comes to sustainable food systems, therefore our voice needs to be heard. We have both a duty and the means to contribute to the European Commission’s objectives.

>>> Read the full Open Letter

Freshly released NutriRECS consortium dietary advice updates on red and processed meats: a turning point in a longstanding controversy?

Brussels, 16 October 2019 – Although we are surrounded by an overwhelming abundance and variety of foods, the simple daily act of eating remains a problematic struggle. In a highly normative society, we are continuously being reminded of our poor eating habits. The animal/plant divide in dietary preconceptions seems to be an important part of the mindset, suggesting a cultural rather than a factual perspective on eating right. Whilst the Western diet is clearly causing havoc and undermining public health, even the dietary guidelines usually put a disproportionate emphasis on the need to reduce the consumption of red meat and the products derived thereof. This is remarkable, to say the least, as red meat is a valuable nutrient-dense food and a key component of our evolutionary diets. It has been consumed since the origin of our genus, sometimes in formidable amounts. By 1.5 million years ago, we became largely adapted to meat eating, both anatomically and physiologically, and could not have survived without it.

This opinion piece is authored by Prof. Dr. ir. Frederic LEROY,
Vrije Universiteit Brussel

>>> Read the full opinion piece



Opinion Piece by Ramón Armengol

Farmers are fed up with false facts

Brussels, 10 October 2019 – Recently, we kicked off the European Meatthefacts campaign, which aims to dispel false information or myths about animal husbandry and meat. The aim is to refute, with scientific arguments and objective data, the countless accusations experienced by the livestock sector and to be able to show society the potential consequences for society if livestock production would end.

This opinion piece is authored by Ramón Armengol,
Vice President of Cogeca and Pig farmer (ES)

 

Opinon piece by European Livestock Voice

‘Climate Change’ and ‘Animal Welfare’ cannot be reduced to simple slogans

25 September 2019 – There has never been a shortage of polarisation in the debate over farm animals, but when the livestock production debate was connected to climate change the polarisation turned into stigmatisation.
All of a sudden a strong discourse arose directing people to feel guilty, not only for producing meat, but even for eating it, and of course demands like ‘sin taxes’ on animal products were quick to follow.

This self-penned opinion piece published on Euractiv.com gives some insight into why this wide range of sectoral associations have joined together as one European Livestock Voice to speak out against disinformation on livestock at EU level.