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Food security and farm animal welfare

An increasing share of the world’s cereals and other crops are used to feed intensively reared livestock. Primarily, this is to produce meat to feed people who have more than enough food.

Our key findings

Food Security tends to be put at risk by:

  • intensifying livestock farming,
  • low crop productivity, and
  • high meat consumption.

Extensive livestock farming is better all round:

  • it often improves food security,
  • it provides fuel, fibre and fertiliser,
  • and is better for farm animal welfare.

Food Security research

Compassion in World Farming, with support from WSPA and the Tubney Charitable Trust, commissioned new research to find out how best to feed the world in 2050.

Our report shows that continuing to intensify livestock farming is likely to increase pressure on food availability, especially in areas where food security is already most vulnerable. Extensive livestock farming however, often creates better food security than intensive farming.

This is because intensive livestock farming relies upon grain-based diets, which can put farm animals in competition with people for food resources, whereas extensive farming can utilise lower grade crops and land, which contributes positively to food security for people.

Increasing productivity: at what cost?

Intensification in industrialised countries has been achieved through industrial-scale intensive agriculture. For smallholders, however, the use of high-productivity but highly grain-dependent breeds is of little value because subsistence farmers rely on more robust animal breeds that need to be able to survive on crop residues and waste.

Compassion calls on government and non-government agencies to take swift and decisive action:

  1. Develop humane-sustainable food security strategies, including farm animal welfare, in future food security assessments and policies.

  2. Reverse the intensification of livestock farming and seek optimal farming.

  3. Reduce the quantity of arable crops, especially cereals, fed to livestock.

  4. Promote sustainable, lower meat diets and address food losses and waste.

Read more

Food security and farm animal welfare

How best to feed the world in 2050

Download (PDF 3.76MB)


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