Any livestock farmer will tell you that animal welfare comes top of their agenda, especially on larger farms for the simple reason that without happy, well-looked after animals, you cannot make a living from livestock farming. So, like with any business, making money is important but livestock intensification is not about skipping over the basics.
The main goal of any farmer is to generate an income while producing high quality products that are market-conform. And livestock farming in Europe includes a wide diversity of practices and production methods. So why is it that one term, “intensive farming” is so often used to portray a very negative picture of farming?
The livestock sector has for some time tried to develop a more neutral terminology that could apply to modern, resource-efficient production models. But there will always be difficulties with trying to move beyond the buzz words, especially in media reporting terms.
But no matter the terminology or practices involved, every livestock farm in Europe is subject to strict rules that include animal welfare under theEuropean Convention for the Protection of Animals kept for Farming Purposes.
Healthy farms go hand-in-hand with healthy well-cared for animals
Farming practices that are considered intensive are an advanced way of farming where, among others, animal health and welfare related issues, the responsible use of animal genetic resources, sustainable animal nutrition and feeding are closely monitored. Keeping animals in good health, based on improved genetic selection, balanced feed and advanced monitoring tools will also maximise farmers’ incomes. In this context, what is good for animals is also good for farmers.
Keeping food prices affordable for everyone
Modern farming models have adapted from the development of modern societies, and the greater efficiencies created allow for a level of production based on large amounts of food for all society. The many different types of farming practices in Europe together provide populations with a regular supply of safe and affordable milk, meat, fish and eggs.
In addition, further processing of meat offers the opportunity to add value, reduce prices, improve food safety and extend the shelf-life. New techniques of food processing, packaging and preservation are continuously being developed to meet with societal demands. This can result in increased household income and improved nutrition[ref]http://www.fao.org/ag/againfo/themes/en/meat/home.html[/ref].