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A fifth of EU budget spent on livestock farming, new research reveals

A new evaluation of how public money is used via the EU’s common agricultural policy (CAP), has found that 63 per cent of arable land within the EU is used to produce animal feed rather than food for human consumption.

CAP sees farmers get subsidies, and this is dependent on the farm size, along with payments that directly support livestock farming. Greenpeace’s investigation has found that up to €32.6 billion goes to livestock farms or to farms producing fodder for livestock. This total up reveals that 20 per cent of the EU’s total annual budget is spent on animal agriculture.

With the UN reiterating that the consumption of meat and animal products must be reduced to preserve resources, Greenpeace highlight that the CAP needs to be reformed to acknowledge the current environmental crisis.

The report says: “This report concludes that the CAP must respond to the massive impacts the livestock sector has on nature, the climate and public health, and to reverse the current trend of farming intensification that it helped to create.”

In January 2019, the Eat-Lancet Commission called for people to adopt predominantly plant-based diets, which would mean most Europeans cutting their red meat consumption by 77 per cent.

The impact that animal agriculture has on the planet is becoming increasingly known to the public. The report from Greenpeace states: “Animal agriculture accounted for 12-17 per cent of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2013” and continued by saying that “halving the EU’s consumptions of meat, dairy and eggs could cut EU agricultural emissions by 25-40 per cent.”

The benefits of plant-based diets are also touched on. “Globally, going a step further and adopting a vegetarian or vegan diet would cut agricultural greenhouse gas emissions by 63 per cent and 70 per cent, respectively.”

The other benefits of a vegan diet are becoming more recognised, with improved health when following a healthy plant-based diet being one of the most common reasons people make the switch. The ethical and moral stances of vegan living are also popular reasons.

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