Knowledge for better food systems

Intensification of animal farming in Europe

71% of European Union farmland is used to feed livestock and 18% to 20% of the EU’s total budget goes to livestock farms, according to this report by NGO Greenpeace.

The report finds that livestock production is becoming concentrated on fewer farms. Between 2005 and 2013, the number of livestock farms in the EU fell by 32%, while the number of livestock units reared on very large farms increased by around 12% over the same time period.

The 71% of EU farmland dedicated to livestock production includes both grassland and arable land. If only arable land is considered, 63% is used for producing crops to feed to animals. Around one third of EU farmland is grassland.

The report estimates that between €28 and €32 billion a year goes towards producers of either livestock or livestock fodder as payments under the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy.

Read the full report, Feeding the Problem: the dangerous intensification of animal farming in Europe, here. See also the Foodsource chapter Focus: the difficult livestock issue.

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Europe

Europe is the world's second-smallest continent by surface area, covering just over 10 million square kilometres or 6.8% of the global land area, but it is the third-most populous continent after Asia and Africa, with a population of around 740 million people or about 11% of the world's population. Its climate is heavily affected by warm Atlantic currents that temper winters and summers on much of the continent. In the European Union, farmers represent only 4.7% of the working population, yet manage nearly half of its land area.

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