Upon invitation, Professor Lu, IGA President 2004-2008, delivered a keynote speech at the Summer Meeting of the Chinese Association of Animal Science in June 2018, Tainan, Taiwan. The Meeting was held at Taiwan Livestock Research Institute (TLRI), an IGA gold institutional member.
The topic of the presentation was “Global Trends of Animal Production and New Agricultural Policy in Taiwan.” Professor Lu discussed global trends in population growth, food production, food imbalance, as well as social and environmental costs associated with these trends. Water scarcity, soil degradation, ecosystem stress, biodiversity loss, decreasing forest cover, and high levels of greenhouse gas emissions are among the most severe environmental costs discussed.
As a result of an increase in global demand, meat, milk and egg consumption increased dramatically from 1961-2014, concomitant with an increase in world livestock counts in the same period. Goat counts increased from just over 200 million to over 1 billion in the same period. Meat consumption in Asia, particularly in China, increased at a faster pace than Europe and North America. Sales of organic milk increased while that of conventional milk decreased in the U.S. during 2012-2017. World egg consumption per person per year increased by 64% from 1980 to 2005, largely due to the increase in developing countries.
Citing US EPA 2018, Dr. Lu indicated that over time, heat stress caused by heat waves could increase vulnerability to disease, reduce fertility, and reduce milk production. Drought reduces the amount of quality forage available to grazing livestock and the amount of grain to higher procuring animals. Climate change may increase the prevalence of parasites and diseases that affect livestock.
As far as animal welfare is concerned, Dr. Lu pointed out that access to pasture is increasingly viewed as a way to alleviate stress and to promote the natural living of animals. Newer generations of consumers are increasingly sophisticated and willing to pay more for products such as organic to promote environmental sustainability and animal welfare. Dr. Lu pointed out that the welfare of farm animals is among the top three priorities that European consumers would like to know more about, right after safety and quality of foods, and effect of agriculture on environmental and climatic changes in 2011 Eurostat.
Greenhouse gas emission by animals presents a serious challenge in the animal production sector. Dr. Lu reviewed a number of mitigations including use of high-quality forages, increasing the concentrate to forage ratio in the diet, protein supplementation of low-quality forage, and inclusion of fat; CH4 inhibitors include ionophores, probiotics, acetogens, bacteriocins, archaeal viruses, organic acids, and plant extracts; vaccination against rumen methanogens; bacteriophages; homoacetogens; H2 utilizing acetogenic bacteria; and genetic selection for ruminants.
In conclusion, Dr. Lu indicated that food, environment, climate change and economic success would be the key to animal production sustainability imperatives. It is necessary to produce more with less. Therefore animal production will take advanced breeding, improved practices, and technology to make it possible. Attending to consumer preferences and concerns, increasing production efficiency, and a justified and fair return to producers can be the foci for future animal production, and it is never too early to address environmental concerns.
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