IMS partnership will measure livestock environmental impacts

IMS partnership will measure livestock environmental impacts

The International Meat Secretariat (IMS) has joined forces with other international associations as part of a FAO-led partnership to improve measurement and performance of the environmental impacts of the livestock industry.

The International Meat Secretariat has the mandate to represent the global beef, lamb, and pork associations. Other international associations will represent the poultry, dairy, and feed sectors.

A key principle of this partnership, says the IMS, to ensure a balanced outcome is the concept of ‘equal voice’ between the main stakeholder groups which are composed of representatives from governments, the private sector, and civil society and non-government organisations.

Livestock-raising and the consumption of animal products make a crucial contribution to the economic and nutritional well-being of millions of people around the world. It also affects the environment in many complex ways, and can make important positive contributions to improving the health of natural resources such as land, water and biodiversity. To fully maximize these possibilities, the use of best management practices, within a culture of continuous improvement, should be measured and rewarded.

As the global consumption of meat, dairy products and eggs continues to rise, increasing attention is being paid to the livestock sector’s environmental performance.

At the recent Rio+20 sustainable development conference, governments agreed on the necessity of making agricultural production more sustainable, and stressed in particular the need to shift to more sustainable livestock production systems.

Currently, many different methods are being used to measure and assess the environmental impacts of animal raising, making it difficult to compare results and set priorities for the continuous improvement of environmental performance along supply chains.

The partnership will work on a number of fronts to strengthen the science of environmental benchmarking of livestock supply chains.

Activities planned for the initial phase of the three-year project include:
• Establishing science-based methods and guidelines on how to quantify livestock’s carbon footprint, covering various types of livestock operations and rearing systems.
• Creating a database of greenhouse gas emission factors generated for the production of different kinds of animal feed – feed production and use offer significant opportunities for reducing livestock emissions.
• Developing a methodology for measuring other important environmental criteria, such as water consumption and nutrient losses, and biodiversity.
• Initiating a communications campaign to promote use of the partnership’s methodologies and findings.

IMS president Arturo Llavallol believes: “The meat industry must work together to demonstrate its commitment to sustainably meeting market demand.” The IMS Sustainable Meat Committee, under the leadership of Patrick Moore, has a crucial role to ensure that this partnership with FAO meets the multiple objectives of economic development, climate change, and food security.

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