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Foresight For Livestock Production

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					                       Foresight For Livestock Production
CONTENTS

    q   Introduction
    q   Background to the Sector
    q   Key Drivers
    q   Science Opportunities and Research Priorities
    q   Overcoming Barriers to Progress
    q   Conclusions and Recommendations
    q   Livestock Production Sub-Group Membership
    q   Appendix: diagrams
    q   Appendix 2: diagrams




Foresight for Livestock Production Page 1
[Index]




                                Introduction
1.This report has been prepared by the Livestock Production sub-group of the Agriculture, Horticulture
and Forestry (AHF) Foresight panel, part of the UK's Foresight programme. The membership of the
group is given at the end of this report. The report considers the implications of changing consumer
demand and advances in science and technology and the sector's ability to compete in domestic,
European and world markets over the next 5-20 years. The sub-group's deliberations have been
helped greatly by the reports from the Food and Drink Foresight panel's meat and dairy sector sub-
groups and by the output of a workshop held in 1996 to discuss infrastructure and research and
development priorities for the livestock sector. Preliminary aspects of this work were reported in the
AHF panel's first report.




Foresight For Livestock Production, Page 2
Foresight For Livestock Production Page: 3




              Background to the Sector
 Livestock in the UK Economy

 2.The livestock sector (defined here as the industries concerned with the production of meat, milk, eggs
 and fibre) has experienced dramatic and fundamental change over the last decade as a result of public
 concerns about food safety, the economic infrastructure in which the sector operates, changes in the
 demand for its outputs and the development of technologies to contribute to that production. These
 factors will strongly influence the challenges and opportunities for livestock production over the next 10
 years. The value of livestock sold for meat (farm gate sales) at 1997 prices for the different livestock
 species is given in Figure 1(4).




 Figure 1 - Value of UK livestock sold for meat 1987-1997*
 (£ million at 1997 prices)
 *1997 figures are provisional

 3. In 1997 total farm gate sales of livestock and livestock products came to £9.73 billion (livestock -
 £5.74 billion; milk - £3.15 billion; eggs, wool and other livestock products - £0.5 million), 62% of total
 agricultural output(4).
4. Figures for meat production, imports, exports and consumption in the UK for the last 10 years are
given in the appendix (Figures 2a - e)(5). Consumption is recorded and calculated on a slightly different
basis: the charts do, however, give a reasonable indication of the relative amounts.

        (4)Agricultural outputs at current prices, Agriculture in the UK, 1997, MAFF.
        (5)Data   from Meat and Livestock Commission.


5. Taking these data together, there are clear differences between the patterns for different species:

    q   Between 1987 and 1995, there was an increasingly positive balance of trade in beef which
        reflected growing exports while imports remained steady (about 20% of domestic production). In
        the Spring of 1996, however, exports ceased due to the post-BSE ban and this was combined
        with a strong pound, the removal from the food chain of cattle over 30 months of age and a sharp
        dip in consumption.

    q   The situation with sheepmeat has remained static with imports and exports roughly equal, both at
        about 28% of domestic production.

    q   For pork, there has been a steady increase in imports and exports whilst domestic production has
        remained static. Imports reached 20% of domestic production in 1996.

    q   There has been a strong increase in consumption of bacon over the last ten years, with domestic
        production and imports each contributing about half of the bacon consumed. There are negligible
        exports giving a negative trade balance.

    q   With poultry meat, again there has been an increase in consumption and also in domestic
        production. Imports make a small contribution to total supply, about 10% of domestic production,
        and about half this amount is exported, resulting in a negative trade balance.

6. Overall, trade balances in meat and dairy production for 1995(6) were as follows:
                                        Exports       Imports        Exports -       Exports as a
                                        £million      £million       Imports         % of imports
Meat                                               1431.5            2292.0             -860.5            62
Dairy products                                     800.3             1079.7             -279.0            74
Total food, feed and drink                         9745.5            1588-1.2           -6135.7           61

The export position in these commodities has improved considerably since 1980 when exports as a
percentage of imports was approximately half the 1996 figure.

        (6)Data from the Central Statistics Office; from tables 5.2 and 5.3 of "Wealth creation and competitiveness of the
        British Food Industry" a Strathclyde University Food Project report for the Food Directorate of the Biotechnology
        and Biological Sciences Research Council, June 1996


8. As with other agricultural sectors, the Common Agricultural Policy and World Trade Organisation
treaties have a major impact on livestock production through subsidies and market support mechanisms.
The Organisation for Economic Collaboration and Development estimated that subsidies and other
market support mechanisms represented the following proportions of total farmers' returns in 1996: 68%
for beef and veal; 52% for sheepmeat; 26% for poultry; and 9% for pigmeat(7).
        (7)Agricultural policies in OECD Countries - Measurement and Background Information 1997, OECD, 1997, ISBN
        92-64-15480-9




Livestock farming

9. In 1996, the June agricultural census(8) showed that some 56% of farm holdings in England and Wales
had livestock as their main source of income - these were as follows:

                                                                                Number
Livestock type
                                                                                of holdings
Pigs and poultry                                                                5,127
Dairy                                                                           23,155
Cattle and sheep (less favoured area)                                           22,989
Cattle and sheep (lowland)                                                      34,844
Mixed                                                                           12,016
Total                                                                           98,131
Arable holdings                                                                 75,597

        (8)Digest   of agricultural census statistics for England and Wales, 1991 and 1996, MAFF


10. A relatively small number of large or very large holdings account for the bulk of production for all the
major livestock species (see Figures 3a - 3d in the appendix). An exception is holdings keeping suckler
beef cows and probably also those finishing beef cattle from beef or dairy herds. Data from the 1991
census show that this pattern has changed little over the last 5 years.

11. Changes in the primary purchasers of livestock products have taken place with the creation of the
free market for liquid milk. Also, the development of assurance schemes for meat and dairy products, led
by the multiple retailers, has driven home the message that livestock production is part of the food chain.

Research and technology transfer

12. Expenditure in 1996/97 by the major public sector agri-food research sponsors - the Biotechnology
and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Department of Agriculture, Northern Ireland
(DANI), the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF), the Natural Environment Research
Council (NERC) and the Scottish Office Agriculture Environment and Fisheries Department (SOAEFD) -
on research supporting the livestock sector was £79.2 million, approximately 30% of their total
expenditure of £260 million on agriculture and food(9). In addition, the Medical Research Council
identified some £7 million of research on nutrition, some of which will be related to livestock products.
Private sector involvement in research is more difficult to quantify but the available data for 1997/98
indicate expenditure of £2 million by the Meat and Livestock Commission on research (and about the
same amount on technical support to companies for implementing best practice) and up to £3.5 million
by the Milk Development Council.

        (9)Agriculture,   Fisheries and Food Funders Group - 1st Report June 1997, MAFF


13. The LINK Sustainable Livestock Production programme has £9.2 million allocated to projects of
which £4.5 million is from the public sector (part of the £79.2 million quoted above) and the remainder
from levy organization (chiefly MLC and MDC; part of their expenditure indicated above) and other
industry funding(10). The programme runs over 4 years.

       (10)This   was the position at the end of the second year of the programme


14. In recent years there have been changes in the technical support available to producers with MAFF
reducing its near market research expenditure and with the privatisation of ADAS. The current level of
transfer of technology to livestock practitioners is not high, particularly in the beef and sheep sectors.

15. As a result of the international nature of the animal health industry, figures for the expenditure on
research in the UK on animal health products are not available.

Consumer concerns

16. The emergence of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in 1986 and the announcement in
March 1996 that exposure to BSE in beef could be the cause of new variant Creutzfeld Jacob Disease
(CJD) in man resulted in a loss of public confidence in beef and in legislative controls which together
reduced dramatically the consumption of beef and beef products1. This public concern built upon earlier
fears about meat safety (eg salmonella in poultry) and was strengthened by the Escherichia coli O157:
H7 outbreaks in Scotland in 1997. Although the consumption of some cuts of beef has revived and is
now above pre-March 1996 levels, the value of <30 month old cattle remains strongly depressed as a
result of the remaining reduced consumption of other cuts, the export ban and the strong value of the
pound; this has serious implications for the future of many beef enterprises. This crisis of confidence has
also fuelled concerns about food safety more generally, animal welfare (eg live animal exports) and
production systems (eg stalls and tethers) in all species.




Foresight For Livestock Production, Page 3
                                   Key Drivers
Consumer confidence

17. The rebuilding of consumer confidence in the safety of livestock production and livestock products
is a key factor in the future success of this sector. When established, the Food Standards Agency
should contribute to this as it will have as its core aim the protection of public health in relation to food.
It will also be the public body with responsibility for communication with the public on issues of food
safety, nutrition and food hygiene.

18. Control of the production standards of imported livestock products is more difficult to achieve than
for domestic production, particularly as legislation and international treaties constrain the ability of the
Government to demand particular standards. This may have an impact on the degree to which public
confidence in livestock products can be maintained.

19. The role of the multiple retailers in driving for higher production standards will continue to gain in
importance. The public (although not necessarily some consumer organisations) already looks upon
these companies as trusted sources of advice about food and this is likely to increase in the future.

20. A healthy diet will be of increasing importance to consumers. Communicating to the public the
benefits of meat as part of a healthy diet will be a challenge for the public and private sectors alike.

21. Effective involvement of the public in discussions on changes in livestock production methods or
on the use of new technologies will be important to maintain public confidence in the sector and to
minimise the "sudden shock" of new information emerging without prior warning.

Markets

22. Under most scenarios, the quality and efficiency of the UK's production methods will be a major
factor in the sector's success in domestic and export markets. Price support measures as a result of
European agricultural policies are likely to decrease and trade barriers will disappear with the result
that UK producers will more than ever be competing for business, at home and abroad, with producers
from countries worldwide (see also paragraph 18).

23. The analysis of the Meat sub-group of the Food and Drink Foresight Panel, based on studies of
the preferences of consumers when buying meat, suggests that the market for meat is segmenting
between:

    q   those who will seek differentiated product (based on technologies regarded as appropriate and
        with a strong preference for local production) and will be willing and able to pay for it;
     q   those who will purchase on price, quality and fitness for purpose, irrespective of the origin or
         production method;

     q   those who reject the exploitation of animals generally or meat production specifically and so do
         not purchase meat.




24. The second category is considered likely to be dominant but important growth is expected in the
first; the meat sub-group argues that the UK is unlikely to be able to compete on a cost and volume
basis and instead, UK meat producers should concentrate on targeted, quality production aimed at
specific, value-focused and predominately domestic markets1. Its report acknowledges, however, that
there is little good information on which to base future projections of consumer demand.

25. On the other hand, the Foresight sub-group looking at the dairy industry concluded that because of
the already high efficiency of UK dairying, there was great potential to supply liquid milk to export
markets, as well as opportunities for added-value products made by modifying the composition of raw
milk or by fractionating whole milk into its components.

26. From the production perspective, this livestock production sub-group considers that the UK can
compete successfully in a range of markets, given a "level playing-field" in economic and regulatory
terms, and agrees that highly efficient production of quality products using sustainable methods will be
paramount, regardless of the markets pursued.

Socio-economic factors

27. It is clear that over the next 10 years there will be considerable reform of the European Union's
Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). These reforms are certain to reduce price support for agriculture in
line with World Trade Organisation agreements. Support from the CAP is likely instead to shift support
to rural communities, particularly in countries with large rural populations (the effects of the CAP on
the UK now and in the future are dealt with in detail in an AHF Foresight panel discussion document
(11)).



         (11)AReview of the Role of Agriculture, Horticulture amd Forestry in the UK Economy, J S Marsh, 1997, Office
         of Science and Technology, DTI URN 97/521


28. The effect on livestock production is likely to be to reduce its direct profitability, particularly in areas
where profitability is already marginal, but to bring in or increase subsidies for maintaining a favoured
landscape, for environmental protection and for supporting rural communities. Livestock producers will
need to be alert to the way in which these changes are introduced and the opportunities and pitfalls
that will accompany them.

29. The low level of new entrants into the livestock sector and agriculture more generally is a cause for
concern for some. It is suggested that perhaps two thirds of farmers are over the age of 50 and that
two thirds of farmers' children do not intend to take up farming as a career. The consequences of this
for the future of the sector are likely to be dramatic but not necessarily detrimental overall. The
reduction in the number of farmers is likely to be among those farming smaller holdings with low per
capita incomes. This may bring an opportunity for different business approaches to the management
of agricultural land and a restructuring of farm businesses to deliver higher profit margins. So long as
there are sufficient controls in place to protect the environment and strategies to support rural
communities, these demographic changes could be seen as a benefit rather than a cause for concern.

Legislation

30. EU and national legislation on livestock production methods will continue to have a major
influence. This includes legislation on: animal welfare; pest and disease control agents; growth
promoters; environmental protection; and the application of non-conventional breeding techniques.

31. The animal welfare lobby has a strong commitment to decoupling trade in live animals from trade
in animal products and an EU protocol which recognises that animals are "sentient beings" rather than
agricultural goods or products has been adopted. Whether such legislation will have a significant
impact on livestock production in Europe remains to be seen.

Science, engineering and technology

32. Advances in science, engineering and technology will create their own opportunities and allow
producers to meet and anticipate the demands made upon them by legislators, retailers and the
public. The use of such technologies will, as noted above, however, need to be acceptable to the end-
consumer.




Foresight For Livestock Production, Page 4
        Science Opportunities and
            Research Priorities
33. Public sector research supporting the livestock sector is funded mainly by BBSRC, DANI, MAFF
and SOAEFD, as well as EU programmes such as Framework 4. Levy funded research is sponsored
by the Meat and Livestock Commission and the Milk Development Council. Crop research relevant to
animal nutrition is funded by the Home Grown Cereals Authority. A range of charitable bodies target
more immediate concerns whilst LINK programmes such as Sustainable Livestock Production provide
a means by which the more forward-looking businesses in the sector can participate in collaborative
research. The following sections, based on the sub-group's discussions and consultation at the 1996
workshop, confirm many of the priorities guiding these programmes of research but offer a food chain
perspective on them and, looking to the future, suggest areas that should be supported.

Inputs - Genetics and reproduction

34. Marker assisted selection (MAS) is already being used in breeding of monogastric species to
identify animals which have desirable agronomic and quality traits and as such has become an
important element of modern breeding programmes. As a result of genome mapping and gene display
technologies, new molecular markers are being identified with increasing accuracy and rapidity. Much
of this work is jointly funded by the public and private sectors and while the UK has made significant
contributions to the development of molecular genetics, the nature of the science means that
international collaboration is essential.

35. MAS techniques are equally applicable in ruminant breeding but for a number of commercial and
technical reasons its use in these species is less well developed. As described in the Foresight dairy
sector report, the UK faces significant challenges and the UK dairy herd lags behind the leading
populations in Europe and North America in production traits. While efforts are being made to reduce
this lag, it can only be achieved by the UK being more progressive than its competitors in the use of
modern molecular breeding technologies. Simply importing the "best" genes and becoming more
efficient in selection cannot close the gap.

36. It is important to emphasise that MAS is not transgenic technology. MAS can only select from
genes (traits) that already exist in the given animal and currently, conventional mating techniques are
required to "introgress" the selected trait throughout a breeding population. As an example, genetic
testing to identify rams resistant to scrapie is being used to reduce the incidence of scrapie.

37. Transgenic technology is the introduction by laboratory techniques of a gene to add or delete a
trait - for example, transgenic sheep that express valuable pharmaceutical proteins in their milk.
Another example is the expression of human complement proteins on the surface of specific pig
organs so that these organs have the potential to be transplanted to man without cross-species
rejection.

38. The speed with which selected genetic traits have been distributed throughout a livestock
population has been much greater in cattle than in other species as a result of the widespread use of
frozen semen for artificial insemination. Almost 40 years after the first such instance of this in cattle,
the technical barriers to the use of routine artificial insemination in pigs are only now being overcome.
Embryo transfer is now being used in pigs and cattle to transmit high value genetics but it is not yet
economic for commercial production. Semen sexing to increase the efficiency of livestock production
is still under development. Ultimately, the production and storage of sexed, cloned embryos could give
very precise control of livestock reproduction. The recent announcements by the Roslin Institute of the
use of nuclear transfer to clone farm animals herald dramatic advances in this area.

39. The use of some of these technologies challenges the public's view of what is ethically acceptable
- for example, is cloning ethically acceptable or is the use of xenografts in human transplant operations
safe? It will be important to ensure that the public is involved in informed debate as these technologies
are developed and that the risks and rewards are articulated accurately and credibly. The challenge
will be to balance the fast-evolving science with the public's confidence in scientists, legislators and
the food chain.

Inputs - Animal health

40. Infectious diseases of livestock remain major constraints on productivity and a serious animal
welfare issue. Concerns about the perceived risk of zoonosis can have devastating economic effects
on the agricultural and food sector industries. Data produced by the Federation Europeane de la
Sante Animale (FEDESA) estimate the cost of endemic infectious diseases to the UK livestock
industry as 17% of the value of farm gate sales (about £1.5 billion per annum). This does not include
the cost of therapy or of statutorily controlled diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease, swine fever or
BSE.

41. Infectious diseases are not static but dynamic - while many diseases have been successfully
controlled in the short to medium term by vaccines, chemotherapy and other measures, many others
are not controlled. New diseases emerge and older ones reappear under new guises. Added to this is
the development of resistance to antibiotics and chemotherapeutics and the selection of pathogens
that are able to break through the protection afforded by vaccines. Experience has shown that
whatever production systems are adopted, intensive or extensive, disease will continue to be a serious
limiting factor. Advances in livestock production brought about by the application of scientific
knowledge in other disciplines such as improved genetics or nutrition can easily be nullified by
infectious disease.

42. The UK benefits from freedom from a number of diseases that are found on the European
mainland such as foot and mouth disease, swine fever, blue tongue and equine arteritis. But reduced
frontier controls within the single European market and the development of international trade
generally increases the risk of the introduction of pathogens and disease vectors.

43. Part of the improvements in consumer safety, production efficiency and animal welfare that will be
needed in the future can come from reducing the incidence and impact of infectious diseases. The sub-
group considers that the following are high priority areas:
    q    the development of rapid, accurate and sensitive methods for disease diagnosis and specific
         typing of organisms to facilitate surveillance and an appropriately speedy response to
         outbreaks;

    q    a better understanding of the interactions between a host and its pathogen and the factors that
         lead to the development of disease, including changes in the pathogenicity of disease
         organisms, the causes of vaccine breakdowns and the interaction of environmental factors with
         disease;

    q    a better understanding of the factors involved in the spread of disease in flocks, herds and
         wider populations including temporal and geographic distribution;

    q    new technologies for disease control, including new approaches to vaccination and immune
         control of diseases;

    q    the identification and use of genes controlling inherent disease resistance;

    q    predictive modelling of infectious disease in populations;

    q    an understanding of the housing and husbandry methods that promote good health and
         prevent disease;

     q   the promotion of routes of transfer of such technologies to commercial practice.

Systems - Animal nutrition

44. Much of the energy and nitrogen consumed by livestock animals is excreted. The efficiency with
which these nutrients are extracted from feed and used depends on the composition of the feed, the
species of animal and its physiological state. As an example, however, nitrogen retention in the
finishing pig fed on commercial diets is around 50%. In order to increase the efficiency of production,
as well as to improve sustainability by reducing environmental pollution, animals with improved feed
conversion abilities will need to be selected, feed digestibility improved and the composition of feed
protein brought closer to the amino acid requirements of the animal. Although animal sources of feed
contain a range of the required nutrients, they are likely to contribute less to livestock rations in future.

45. The top priorities for nutritional research are:

    q    the optimisation of feed conversion by developing ways of converting grass, forage and by-
         products into high quality meat, milk etc. Research aimed at improving the efficiency of
         livestock nutrition needs to take account of the potential strains on the physiology of the animal.
         Maximising the yield of dairy cows by genetic selection, for example, may disadvantage the
         cow if her feed intake cannot meet the demands of lactation and, rightfully, cause concern to
         farmers and consumers;

    q    the extension of the effective grazing season by breeding grasses with increased tolerance to
         low temperature and drought and managing pastures to minimise poaching thus lengthening
         the period that grass can supply good quality nutrients;
    q   continuing to develop systems to perform rapid analyses of feedstuffs and to use this
        information to match the composition of the feed to the requirements of individual animals;

    q   to increase the digestibility of feedstuffs, for example by plant breeding or with the use of
        enzymes, and reduce environmental pollution caused by waste effluent.




Systems - Animal welfare

46. While it is in the best interests of both farmers and their stock to maintain a high health status in
production units, it is more difficult to go beyond this and provide for the complex behavioural needs of
farm animals within efficient production systems. Nevertheless, the attention to animal welfare and the
standards achieved in the UK are comparable to, if not better than, those competitors supplying our
domestic and export markets. The sub-group concludes that the best contribution that science,
engineering and technology can make to animal welfare is as follows:

    q   to develop objective indicators of welfare and objective welfare standards, based on science,
        that can be used to set minimum welfare standards to inform legislators and to remove
        uncertainty in farming practices;

    q   the development of methods for monitoring, auditing and controlling production systems for
        compliance with prescribed standards;

    q   the development of techniques for studying animal mind (cognition) to contribute to the debate
        about farm animal sentience;

    q   the reduction of metabolic stress in high production systems;

    q   the development of an integrated approach to housing design that takes full account of the
        needs of farmers whilst assuring the welfare of animals. Increasing our understanding of the
        interaction between genetics and the environment to achieve compatibility between new
        livestock strains and new housing systems;

    q   to develop better methods of training and education to promote interaction between producers,
        legislators and animal welfare experts, including the use of IT systems to provide remote,
        interactive access to expertise and information;

    q   to produce an objective basis for understanding and improving stockmanship.

Systems - Food safety

47. Some important trends in the increase in bacterial food poisoning in humans seem to be linked to
changes in agricultural systems. With Salmonella, upwards trends in specific sub-species isolated
from humans have coincided with similar trends in the same sub-types among farm animals (eg
SePT4 in poultry and StDT104 in cattle). Links between human and farm animal infections with
Escherichia coli O157:H7 or Campylobacter also appear likely although unproved through lack of data.
To further confound the problem, farm animals do not necessarily exhibit any symptoms of disease
though they may be a source of cross-contamination in the abattoir. The biology of symptomless
transmission of pathogens in livestock (vertically and horizontally) is not well understood and so any
proposed changes to livestock production systems which aim to reduce or eradicate these bacteria
can only be empirical.

48. As well as a better understanding of the critical control points in the livestock food chain, a holistic
or systems approach to improved animal production is now needed encompassing breeding policies,
maintenance of on-farm health status, the use of prophylactics and therapeutic medicines, feed
sterilisation, water purity, husbandry, building construction, hygiene, bio-security and so on.

Outputs - Food chain integrity and safety

49. The priorities for research supporting food chain integrity and safety come from the need for the
food chain to react to the very significant lifestyle changes currently occurring in the UK and predicted
for the future, such as increases in the frequency of eating out and the consumption of prepacked,
prepared meals. Hygiene through supply chains will be more important than ever and will need to be
backed up with a system of traceability that ensures that problems can be tracked to their source and
eradicated very quickly. Priorities in this area are:

    q    developing robust and economic methods for the identification of animals and products through
         the food chain;

    q    research on the pathogenic organisms causing problems with food safety;

     q   developing techniques for evaluating risk of harm to humans to allow more comprehensive
         information to be available to the public and to help ensure regulations are scientifically based.

Outputs - Livestock product quality

50. The quality of meat and meat products was identified in section 2 as an important driver for the
industry. Consistency of organoleptic qualities and "natural" production methods are likely to be
important considerations for consumers in the future. Although scientific understanding of basis of
quality has so far been difficult to acquire, the research priorities are well known:

    q    to develop better technologies to assess the quality of animal products;

    q    to develop acceptable ways to enhance animal products, in particular reducing variability in, for
         example, taste, tenderness, appearance and nutritional balance (this will include technologies
         applied before and after the farm gate);

    q    to improve the storage of meat and milk products without deterioration;

     q   to modify the fatty acid composition of meat and dairy products towards that considered
         beneficial on human health grounds.
Foresight For Livestock Production, Page 5
                Overcoming Barriers to
                      Progress
51. In July 1996, the Livestock Production sub-group organised a workshop to discuss the technical
opportunities and priorities identified above. It also considered how changes in the "infrastructure" of
research, the way in which it is organized and the routes for communication between researchers and
others involved in livestock production, could be improved to help advances in science, engineering
and technology be more effectively taken into practical application for the benefit of the UK as whole
(12). The workshop concluded that the following were the most important infrastructural issues:



    q   the provision of better facilities and incentives for researchers to disseminate R&D findings
        directly to producers, such as a national R&D newsletter or an Internet site;

    q   systems research, focusing on the animal production system as a whole and looking at
        interactions between production factors rather than isolated aspects (eg nutrition, disease,
        housing) in isolation. This should take into account the demands of sustainability such as:
        minimal use of non-renewable resources; recycling of waste; integration of livestock production
        with other farm enterprises; and minimising environmental damage;

    q   the need to create and support a "virtual", goal-oriented research centre supporting existing
        research groups in a managed network with jointly agreed aims and direction;

    q   the establishment of a forum (possibly a series of public meetings), which enable consumer
        groups to come together with producers and scientists. The proceedings at these events would
        be made available to the public and should be designed to permit different interest groups
        openly to discuss livestock production systems and to develop a consensus on those that are
        acceptable in terms of environmental protection, animal welfare and economic viability.

    q   the promotion of positive images of livestock production systems, demonstrating where
        research and development contributes to further improvements

    q   communication with the public on issues of risk and the economics of the sector.

        (12)Foresight   for Livestock - report of a workshop held on 18/19 July 1996, Office of Science and Technology


52. The workshop also called (along with many others) for an independent Food Agency to assume
the role of safeguarding consumers.
53. The Livestock Production sub-group considers that it is important to add to this list of infrastructural
issues the inexorable decline in the level of public sector research funding supporting the food chain;
non-BSE animal disease research, in particular, has suffered cuts in public expenditure as significant
funds have been put into research on the spongiform encephalopathies. In addition, the move to short
term funding undermines the research base upon which the new Food Standards Agency (announced
in January 1998) will rely. The sub-group believes, therefore, that the importance of long term support
for the facilities and core expertise to enable the UK to respond to food crises as they arise should be
recognised and acted upon by Government and industry alike.




Foresight For Livestock Production, Page 6
                       Conclusions and
                       Recommendations
54. The livestock sector is important to the UK:

    q   it provides a critical contribution to the diet of most of the UK population as well as contributing
        £9.73 billion to the UK economy;

    q   it is an integral part of a mixed farming model which should become increasingly important if
        the UK is serious about sustainable production - producing and utilising on-farm inputs as far
        as possible.

55. It is, however, an industry under siege with public concerns about food safety and macro-economic
factors having severe impacts on current and future prospects. In addition, the speed and direction of
development of new technologies is causing public concern.

56. In these circumstances, the sub group strongly urges:

    q   a greater dialogue between the public and scientists, legislators and the food chain on
        production systems and new technologies and better communication about actions that are
        planned or already being taken to protect the public;

    q   increased expenditure on research and technology transfer by both the public and private
        sectors of the livestock industry;

    q   a focus on the improvement of final product quality by all sectors of the supply chain.

Public confidence in livestock production

57. The sub-group concludes that Government, industry and consumer bodies should work together to
stimulate discussion about new technologies which can deliver food safety, consumer, environmental,
animal welfare and production benefits. Whilst the Food Standards Agency's focus on food safety may
provide a model, the group feels that action is needed now.

58. The mass media should be vigilant in alerting the public to emerging issues in livestock production
(information on topics such as animal cloning and E coli O157, for example, had been in the public
domain for a considerable length of time before the news "broke" but had until then only been covered
by specialist publications). One way in which the Food Standards Agency could help build public
confidence is by facilitating an early awareness of scientific information on livestock issues relevant to
food safety.

Research and technology interaction

59. A range of priorities for public sector research and technology transfer are identified in section 4 of
this report under the following headings: animal genetics and reproduction; animal health; animal
welfare; animal nutrition; livestock product quality; food safety; and food chain integrity.

60. The sub-group welcomes the first report of the Agriculture, Food and Fisheries Research Funders'
Group, which comprises representatives BBSRC, DANI, MAFF, NERC, SOAEFD and the Forestry
Commission (see also paragraphs 12 and 33). The report presents an overall picture of the public
sector research programmes supporting agriculture, food and fisheries(13). Whilst many of the identified
research priorities fall within the current strategies of the public sector research sponsors, it is the sub-
group's view that there is a lack of a unifying national research strategy for the livestock sector. A
formally defined and communicated strategy would allow greater transparency of decision-making in
the allocation of both Government and levy funded research expenditure. This in turn would generate
a greater sense of ownership by the public and all sectors of the food chain.

       (13)Agriculture,   Food and Fisheries Funders Group - 1st Report June 1997, MAFF


Further consultation

61. The Livestock Production sub-group hopes that the issues raised and recommendations put
forward will stimulate debate between all those with interests in the UK's livestock food chain.




Foresight For Livestock Production, Page 7
  Livestock Production and Sub-
        Group Membership
(From May 1997)

Ian Kent (chair)                     Dalgety plc
Professor John Bourne                ex Institute of Animal Health
Jeremy Burdett                       Dairy farmer
Roger Cook                           National Office of Animal Health
Chris Davis                          ADAS Bridgets Research Centre
Dr David Garwes                      MAFF Chief Scientist's Group
Mr Chris Gilbert-Wood                Marks & Spencer plc
Geoff Harrington                     ex Meat and Livestock Commission
Fraser Hart                          Livestock producer
David Lattimore                      Unigate European Foods
Dr Christine Nichol                  Bristol University
Professor David Onions               University of Glasgow

(From November 1995 to April 1997)

Judy MacArthur Clark (chair)    Veterinarian; Farm Animal Welfare Committee
Dr Mike Baxter                  Ravensbourne College
Dr Peter Biggs                  Animal health consultant
Jeremy Burdett                  Dairy farmer
Fraser Hart                     Livestock producer
Peel Holroyd                    Livestock consultant
Dr Alistair Lawrence            Scottish Agricultural College
Dr Christine Nichol             Bristol University
Professor David Onions          Glasgow University
Dr Tony Suckling                RSPCA
Professor Roger Wilkins         Institute of Grassland and Environment Research
Dr David Wishart
Dr David Rawlins                 Office of Science and Technology




Foresight For Livestock Production, Page 8
                                 Appendix




Figure 2a - production, imports, exports and consumption of beef in the UK
Figure 2b - Production, imports, exports and consumption of sheepmeat in the UK




Figure 2c - Production, imports, exports and consumption of pork in the UK




Figure 2d - Production, imports, exports and consumption of bacon in the UK
Figure 2e - Production, imports, exports and consumption of poultry in the UK




Foresight For Livestock Production, Page 9
Foresight For Agriculture, Horticulture & Forestry - Livestock Production Page: 3




                                      Appendix 2




 Figure 3a - Numbers of cattle holdings by size of holding (1996)
Figure 3b - Numbers of sheep holdings by size of holding (1996)
Figure 3c - Numbers of pig holdings by size of holding (1996)
Figure 3d - Number of UK poultry holdings by size of flock (1991) NB 1996 data is not
available for poultry holdings.




Foresight For Livestock Production, Page 10

				
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