Europe’s population depends on farmers - including livestock farmers - to supply it with adequate amounts of healthy food. Increasingly, regions are also seeking security over their own food supply, ensuring they do not rely on imported supplies. Given Europe’s large - and growing - population, it is important that all sectors are both secure and sustainable.
Europe supports large numbers of food producing animals. Europe farms almost 90 million cows, 100 million sheep and nearly 150 million pigs. As well as meat, livestock provides provide us with dairy products from cows, sheep and goats and eggs from a range of poultry. Even fish and bees for honey form part of our livestock.
If Europe is to feed its population and maintain control over its food supply, a sustainable, productive - and therefore healthy - livestock population is important. Animal medicines and vaccines help farmers and authorities prevent or treat a huge variety of existing diseases - bluetongue, bovine mastitis, circovirus, foot-and-mouth disease - and emerging diseases such as lumpy skin disease or bovine besnoitiosis. Because of the animal health industry, these illnesses are no longer a serious threat to our livestock.
There is another consideration; Europe’s economy. Europe is the world’s largest trader in agri-foods, which amount for more than 7 percent of all EU exports. Any impact on Europe’s farms that affects food production or movement of foodstuffs - as many infectious diseases do - could have a dramatic impact on exports. Therefore effective policies to protect our livestock is vital.
The animal health industry supports sustainable farming practices in Europe and strives to develop advanced solutions in the interests of a safe, secure and sustainable food supply.