Last week, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Committee on World Food Security met in Rome, Italy, to develop recommendations for sustainable agricultural development. Following the conference, the committee released its “Proposed Draft Recommendations on Sustainable Agricultural Development for Food Security and Nutrition, Including the Role of Livestock.”

The recommendations are voluntary and non-binding, and are primarily addressed to governments for public policies, but also to all stakeholders with a role in achieving food security and nutrition.

Recommendations specific to livestock production include:

·         Improve animal health and welfare.

·         Recognize, protect and support pastoral systems for livelihoods and sustainable resource management.

·         Promote and support sustainable grazing systems.

·         Promote and support mixed systems.

·         Promote the sustainability of intensive systems.

Under the heading of animal health and welfare, the report focuses on five areas:

1.       Enable access to veterinary and extension services, vaccinations, medications, including antimicrobials, adapted to the specific livestock production systems.

2.       Improve animal health management including biosafety and biosecurity, particularly focusing on infectious diseases, zoonoses, and reducing exposure to environmental hazards, by following OIE standards, and the One Health approach.

3.       Promote the prudent and responsible use of antimicrobials in agriculture and prevent their unnecessary use, including the phasing out of use of antibiotics for animal growth promotion in the absence of risk analysis.

4.       Improve animal welfare delivering on the “five freedoms” and related OIE standards and principles, including through capacity building programs, and supporting voluntary actions in the livestock sector to improve animal welfare.

5.       Promote access to good quality feed, and facilitate training on sustainable feeding practices.

The Five Freedoms for animal welfare, as described by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) include

1.       Freedom from hunger, thirst and malnutrition;

2.       Freedom from fear and distress

3.       Freedom from physical and thermal discomfort;

4.       Freedom from pain, injury or disease;

5.       Freedom to express normal patterns of behavior.

The report encourages enhancement of grazing systems that improve ecosystems and soil health, and mixed systems were livestock production is integrated into, and compliments crop production. The authors also acknowledge the role of intensive livestock-production systems in sustainability. Among other points, the report suggests promoting the efficiency of feed crop production, feed use and the sustainable use of appropriate by-products for feed. It also notes the potential to improve production efficiency and protect the environment by improving the management of waste and the use of by-products, and through the “use and sharing of innovative and appropriate technologies and practices.”

Read the full report online from the FAO.