Brussels – A European Commission presentation to EU national governments on the upcoming ‘farm-to-fork’ strategy denies Europe’s industrial meat problem, said Greenpeace.

The presentation, given on 31 January by the Commission’s departments for agriculture, fishing and health, but notably not environment, claimed that a reduction in livestock could lead to “rural depopulation and biodiversity loss” – claims that Greenpeace disputes.

Marco Contiero, Greenpeace EU agriculture policy director, said: “The Commission’s ongoing denial of Europe’s industrial meat problem is becoming a farce. Given that two thirds of the EU’s farmland is used to feed animals, a shift to less and better meat could only result in a revival of Europe’s biodiversity. The current system of industrial animal and feed production, bankrolled by the EU, has come with the disappearance of millions of farms. We need extensive animal farming that works for nature and for small farmers, the current EU plans do neither.”

Some figures on the scale of industrial animal farming in Europe, and its impacts:

  • Between 2005 and 2013 the EU lost 2.9 million livestock farms, 25% of the total number of farms in Europe.
  • 72% of Europe’s meat comes from the largest category of farms
  • A staggering 63% of arable land is dedicated to animal feed production, mainly for industrial livestock. Overall 71% of total EU agricultural land is devoted to raising livestock.
  • This land, and other targeted subsidies for livestock, is worth between €28-€32 billion in CAP direct payments per year for the animal farming sector, 18-20% of the EU’s total budget.
  • Nitrogen pollution, mainly derived from livestock manure, costs the EU up to €320 billion per year.

Studies from the IPCC, the EAT-Lancet Commission and the RISE foundation have indicated the need to reduce the production and consumption of animal products to mitigate their climate, environmental, health and social impacts. 

Greenpeace is calling on the EU to reduce animal farming, and to raise livestock only via ecological methods on extensive pastures, and to end factory farming reliant on industrial feed production.


Marco Contiero  – Greenpeace EU agriculture policy director: +32 (0)47 777 7034, [email protected]

Greenpeace EU press desk: +32 (0)2 274 1911, [email protected]

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