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Stakeholder study seeks to map future of UK livestock

Researchers engage with sector on transformation of animal agriculture.

Researchers are to work with stakeholders in UK livestock to seek consensus on the sector’s increasingly contested role in the economy, against a backdrop of climate change targets.

A team of scientists is to engage with farmers, retailers, policymakers and others, aiming to balance the sector’s market value and opportunities for innovation with its less tangible contributions to food systems, health, rural economies and social wellbeing.

The three-year initiative will aim to define an agreed pathway to transform UK livestock in readiness for a changing future. It gets under way as sustainability in UK livestock is called into question over the environmental and health impacts of meat and dairy production and consumption.

Solutions for society

The project, led by the Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems and involving the Roslin Institute, named TRAnsforming the DEbate about livestock systems transformation (TRADE), is funded by UK Research and Innovation’s Transforming UK Food Systems Strategic Priorities Fund.

Scientists will explore better integration of social and scientific understanding to mitigate societal, political and economic barriers to potential solutions.

Their objectives include mapping UK stakeholders, understanding production and consumption patterns and associated impacts; and defining competing views on regulation. They also aim to determine evolving health and social impacts of consuming livestock products, and public preferences for livestock goods and related services.

The team will also seek to understand regulatory objectives and establish consensus on roles and responsibilities of market participants and government.

In addition, they will model the livestock system and develop a pathway to specific, measurable outcomes related to market, environment health and social impacts of production and consumption of livestock products.

Scientific insight has a critical role to play in addressing the challenge of producing livestock efficiently and sustainably. We look forward to working with others across the UK livestock sector to apply our collective knowledge and expertise to this major challenge.

Professor Mick WatsonRoslin Institute

There is general consensus that livestock farming must change, without clear agreement of how this might happen. To make progress, consensus among stakeholders in the livestock sector should be underpinned by evidence of the impact potential production systems may have, and with reference to public preferences, to better understand the possible trade-offs in environmental, health, economic and societal impacts of change.

Professor Dominic MoranGlobal Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems

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