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FAO’s “State of Food and Agriculture 2009″ Focuses on a Review of the Livestock Sector

February 2010: The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has released "The State of Food and Agriculture 2009: Livestock in the balance," which examines the role of livestock in: food security and poverty reduction; the environment and climate change; and human and animal health.

The report, which is the first comprehensive review of the livestock sector since 1982, notes that livestock are both a contributor to, and victim of, climate change. It highlights strategies for climate change adaptation by traditional producers in extensive systems through: diversification; breeding strategies; market responses; institutional and policy changes; scientific research; and improved livestock management systems. It also underscores mitigation strategies in the livestock sector through: improved feeding management; improved waste management; grazing management; reduced clearing of forest for pasture; and changed consumption patterns.

The report outlines the importance of policy interventions and technical solutions in mitigating the impacts of livestock on climate change, noting that when good management practices are implemented on degraded land, pasture and cropland can be net carbon sinks. In terms of impacts of climate change on livestock, the report describes direct and indirect impacts on grazing and non-grazing production systems, and underscores the vulnerability of grazing systems in arid and semi-arid areas. It also raises the concern of warmer temperatures leading to the spread of vector-borne diseases and animal parasites. The report highlights that potential positive and negative impacts will vary geographically. [FAO Press Release][The Report]