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Livestock production is a key driver of environmental change - contributing to climate change, water pollution, loss of soil fertility and biodiversity. Around one third of all arable land is used to produce crops such as maize, wheat and soy beans to feed animals. With the addition of grazing land, roughly three-quarters of all agricultural land is used to feed livestock.
Around one-quarter of all freshwater is used by livestock, mainly in the production of animal feed.
The projected growth in livestock production and consumption will further exacerbate these pressures.
WSPA believes it is possible to reduce both the environmental footprint of the food system and provide for the welfare of farm animals.
Learn more in our reports and case studies:
COP18: Livestock and climate change (PDF 712KB, 5 pages)
This briefing examines the role of livestock production in the context of climate change. It demonstrates how it is possible to address the challenge of climate change in agriculture in ways that consider both climate and the welfare of farm animals. It calls on solutions for mitigation and adaptation to be equitable, enhance food security and promote farm animal welfare.
Briefing - Freshwater use and farm animal welfare (PDF 6.8MB, 7 pages)
The briefing, produced by WSPA and Compassion in World Farming, summarises a report on the Water Footprint of different types of meats and farm systems globally and in four different countries: Brazil, China, Netherlands and the US. It also explores solutions that combine wise water use in farming with good animal welfare.
Report – A comparative study on the water footprint of poultry, pork and beef in different countries and production systems (PDF 413KB, 42 pages)
This report was commissioned by Compassion in World Farming, with support from the Tubney Charitable Trust and WSPA. It analyses the water footprint of different farming systems (grazing, mixed and industrial systems) and meats (poultry, pork and beef), in five different regions: Brazil, China, India, the U.S. and the global average.
Briefing - Livestock and climate change (PDF 596KB, 4 pages)
This briefing examines how animals can be farmed in humane farming systems while achieving environmental objectives and without jeopardising food security.
Report - Eating our future (PDF 1.54MB, 32 pages)
Current trends in animal production contribute to climate change, drain our resources and do not provide good animal welfare. However, livestock kept in well-managed extensive conditions contribute positively to sustainability and the environment.
Briefing - Why livestock and humane, sustainable agriculture matter at Rio+20 (PDF 860 KB)
This leaflet outlines why humane and sustainable agriculture must be considered when we look at the future of food and farming. The rearing and use of animals has a major impact on the environment, society and the global economy, so ensuring their welfare can help alleviate poverty and encourage sustainable development.