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ARS Home » Midwest Area » West Lafayette, Indiana » Livestock Behavior Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #173756


item Marchant, Jeremy
item Lay Jr, Donald

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/22/2004
Publication Date: 9/22/2004
Citation: Marchant Forde, J.N., Lay Jr, D.C. Bridging differences between europe and the u.s.a. - research. Future Trends in Animal Agriculture. p.54.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The European Union now comprises some 455 million people in 25 countries (EU25), compared with 290 million people in the U.S. In terms of livestock production, it is estimated that the EU25 has average populations of 89 million cattle, 154 million swine, 90 million sheep and 350 million laying hens. These compare with 97 million cattle, 59 million swine, 7 million sheep and 270 million laying hens. The EU25 is therefore a major player both in terms of an internal single market and in terms of global trade. Factors affecting animal production in the EU25 member states are likely to be felt across internal and external national boundaries. The face of agriculture both in Europe and in the U.S. continues to change. There is still the trend to move from many small farms, to fewer larger farms and the general population becomes more and more removed from food production. The small family farm is now far removed from reality, both here in the U.S. and in Europe, although there are still some areas within the EU25 that incorporate small, subsistence-type farming. In general, farm animal production has become larger scaled, more intensive and less understood to the shrinking rural and growing urban populations. The human populations are now paying attention to and acting on concerns of interest such as the way in which food is produced - in terms of food safety, environmental protection and animal welfare. Within Europe, animal welfare has had high priority. When looking into the future from an animal welfare perspective in the U.S., there is a working model for our use across the Atlantic. We should be learning from the European model and embracing the positive lessons and looking for alternative methods to avoid the negative experiences. A key to this is exchange - exchange of personnel and ideas. Europe undoubtedly has expertise, whereas the U.S. can boast facilities and research support infrastructure. We should be looking for European scientists to spend time in our labs and for U.S. scientists to spend time in European labs. Producer groups and the food industry need to interact with each other to harmonize voluntary welfare schemes and they should communicate with similar organizations in Europe to learn from their experiences. Farm animal industries need to be aware of the need for flexibility in production methods or even the need for change. We should not expend all our energy researching systems that may ultimately be non-sustainable due to public antipathy.