Speaking at the Financial Times summit of sustainable agriculture in Brazil, WWF US livestock director Bryan Weech hailed the progress made by the Brazilian livestock industry, and said the goal of producing more meat while reducing the industry’s impact on the environment was not unrealistic.
“I’m encouraged by some of the data that Embrapa [Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation] has produced, which said meat production can almost double on the current land that has been used for beef production by increasing efficiency; it’s very impressive. That is the sort of thinking and opportunities that are in front of us, especially in Brazil, to increase production on the current land, or even less land than already exists,” he told GlobalMeatNews.
“Consumers need to be conscious about the decisions they’re making, and demand sustainable food, but meat and beef in particular will always be an important part of a diet and, as the population grows, demand for beef will continue to grow. We need to recognise that, but also recognise that there is a need for better practices and more consideration for the impact on the environment.”
He added that although meat production has been recognised to have an impact on the Brazilian deforestation, the collaborative approaches bringing stakeholders, including companies, non-governmental organisations and the government, together to find solutions to these complex issues were very encouraging.
“In Brazil, we certainly think there’s an opportunity to increase the kilos of beef produced per hectare of land, as well as weaning rates, so the number of heads per cow can be improved. There are producers already in Brazil that are exemplifying some of those better management practices, so the question is: How do we use systems to educate other producers about what they’re doing in order to exemplify these better management practices,” added Weech.
He pointed out that more work needed to be done, but that improving sustainability would also positively impact the financial side of agricultural operations.