Livestock’s long shadow Environmental issues and options
LEAD (Livestock, Environment And Development) (a multi-institutional initiative of United Nations FAO - formed to promote ecologically sustainable livestock production systems)
By H. Steinfeld, P. Gerber, T. Wassenaar, V. Castel, M. Rosales, C. de Haan - (2006)
The livestock sector emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global. The findings of this report suggest that it should be a major policy focus when dealing with problems of land degradation, climate change and air pollution, water shortage and water pollution, and loss of biodiversity. Livestock’s contribution to environmental problems is on a massive scale
"...A general conclusion is that improving the resource use efficiency of livestock production can reduce environmental impacts. While regulating about scale, inputs, wastes and so on can help, a crucial element in achieving greater efficiency is the correct pricing of natural resources such as land, water and use of waste sinks. Most frequently natural resources are free or underpriced, which leads to overexploitation and pollution. Often perverse subsidies directly encourage livestock producers to engage in environmentally damaging activities. A top priority is to achieve prices and fees that reflect the full economic and environmental costs, including all externalities. One requirement for prices to influence behaviour is that there should be secure and if possible tradable rights to water, land, use of common land and waste sinks. Damaging subsidies should be removed, and economic and environmental externalities should be built into prices by selective taxing of and/or fees for resource use, inputs and wastes. In some cases direct incentives may be needed."
...An important general lesson is that the livestock sector has such deep and wide-ranging environmental impacts that it should rank as one of the leading focuses for environmental policy...there is an urgent need to develop suitable institutional and policy frameworks, at local, national and international levels, for the suggested changes to occur. This will require strong political commitment, and increased knowledge and awareness of the environmental risks of continuing “business as usual” and the environmental benefits of actions in the livestock sector.
"Livestock have a substantial impact on the world's water, land and biodiversity resources and contribute significantly to climate change...[T]he livestock sector occupies about 30% of the ice-free terrestrial surface on the planet. In many situations, livestock are a major source of land-based pollution emitting nutrients and organic matter, pathogens and drug residues into rivers, lakes and coastal seas.
Animals and their wastes emit gases, some of which contribute to climate change, as do other land-use changes caused by demand for feed grains and grazing land. Livestock shape entire landscapes and their demands on land for pasture and feed crop production modify and reduce natural habitats."
"...Policy measures that would help in reducing water use and pollution include full cost pricing of water [to cover supply costs, as well as, economic and environmental externalities], regulatory frameworks for limiting inputs and scale, specifying required equipment and discharge levels, zoning regulations and taxes to discourage large-scale concentrations close to cities, as well as development of secure water rights and water markets, and partipating management of watersheds."
"...Practices that lead to the provision of environmental services, such as improved water quantity and quality, can be encouraged through payments to providers. Schemes of payment for environmental services [PES] rely on the development of a market for environmental services that have previously not been priced.
...Usually, PES schemes rely on external financial resources; however, the long-term sustainability of the mechanisms is often uncertain. Furthermore, the level of payment is often politically imposed and does not correspond to effective demand for services.
A few countries have specific legal frameworks for PES at the national or regional levels. Most of the existing PES schemes, however, operate without a specific legal framework. Some service providers take advantage of this legal gap to establish property rights for land and natural resources."
[IMAGINE THAT!! SOCIETIES BASED ON THE NOTION OF INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS AND FREE ENTERPRISE HAVE THE NERVE TO RECOGNIZE AND PROTECT PRIVATE PROPERTY IN LAND, NATURAL RESOURCES & LIVESTOCK!! HOW SHAMEFUL!!!]
[THIS REPORT SETS FORTH AN AMBITIOUS UTOPIAN FRAMEWORK FOR A NEW SUPRANATIONAL GLOBAL WELFARE SYSTEM MODELED AFTER THE EUROPEAN UNION, THAT RELIES ON SUPRANATIONAL, REGIONAL & NATIONAL INSTITUTIONAL SUBSIDIES TO REFORM HUMAN BEHAVIOR. THE EUROPEAN UNION, THROUGH THE UNITED NATIONS, IS ATTEMPTING TO REACH INTO THE UNITED STATES, WITH THE HELP OF U.S. POLITICIANS & GREEN EXTREMIST GROUPS TO GOVERN EVERY ASPECT OF ECONOMIC LIFE. See, e.g., Putting Payments for Environmental Services in the Context of Economic Development (2006) UN FAO
ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/009/ah633e/ah633e00.pdf ; From Goodwill to Payments for Environmental Services, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) (Aug. 2003) at: http://www.unpei.org/PDF/budgetingfinancing/From-goodwill-payment-env-services.pdf ; http://www.panda.org/about_wwf/what_we_do/policy/macro_economics/our_solutions/pes/index.cfm].
[IT IS INTERESTING HOW THE ACRONYM 'PES' CORRESPONDS TO THE PARTY OF EUROPEAN SOCIALISTS!! See http://www.pes.org/ ].
[THIS REPORT CONTAINS MANY CLEAR-CUT REFERENCES TO SUPRANATIONAL GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATORY GOVERNANCE TREATIES (INSTITUTIONALIZD 'SOFT' SOCIALISM BEING EXPORTED BY THE EUROPEAN UNION) THAT WOULD BE IMPLEMENTED AT THE NATIONAL LEVEL BY TREATY PARTY GOVERNMENTS. THE MENTION OF 'RESIDUES INTO RIVERS LAKES AND SEAS' IS AN INDIRECT REFERENCE TO THE VAST ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATION OF SOVEREIGN U.S. TERRITORY CALLED FOR BY THE U.N. LAW OF THE SEA CONVENTION].
[While the report speaks of environmental damage caused by overgrazing and deforestation, it also speaks of the environmental damage encouraged by agricultural subsidy and liberal trade policies. Yet, what is really at work is a hidden agenda of attacking American industrial agriculture, including crop farming, livestock farming and ranching, as 'UN'sustainable. This has been one of the main arguments of Environmental Nongovernmental Organizations (ENGOs) in Europe for a long while. Unfortunately, it will drive most small U.S. farmers in the livestock industry out of business and increase the U.S. unemployment rate, AND DIMINISH THE GLOBAL COMPETITIVENESS OF U.S. AGRICULTURE . U.S. policymakers and the incoming U.S. President must NOT fall prey to these economically & socially destructive ideas].
[Interestingly, on page 224, the Report refers to Europe's Precautionary Principle, as "a principle used to link environmental concerns to decision-making [. It] calls for action to reduce environmental impact even before conclusive evidence of the exact nature and extent of such damage exists. The precautionary principle stresses that corrective action should not be postponed if there is a serious risk of irreversible damage, even though full scientific evidence may still be lacking. However, there is considerable debate about the usefulness of this principle among policy-makers; a common understanding is still missing." ]
[On page 50, the Report notes how, "Responding to consumer concerns, the EU has required that products containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) be labeled so that consumers can identify them. In addition, the EU is pushing for GMO soybeans to be separated from other varieties so that those purchasing them for feed or as ingredients can make a choice".]
[Actually, to the extent this Report recognizes the debate over the Precautionary Principle, it is accurate. However, the Report fails to mention how Europe has used the Precautionary Principle both as a disguised trade barrier and also AS A MEANS TO UNDERMINE AMERICAN INDUSTRIAL AGRICULTURE:
“EU officials have frequently referred to the precautionary principle as a necessary “framework for learning in the face of uncertainty” and arguably have embraced it as a metaphor for protecting the European ‘way of life’ against the ‘Americanization’ of
European commercial and agricultural practices.12
12... The most recent of three workshops previously organized by the German Marshall Fund’s U.S.-European Biotechnology Initiative to discuss U.S. and EU views toward biotechnology explains a great deal about EU reliance upon the precautionary principle. An interpretative summary of this last dialogue (prepared by a European) is extremely revealing. “The EC official stressed that the political purpose of the European rules [about GMOs] was indeed to restore consumer confidence…‘Anything less than the regulations now being proposed would not restore consumer confidence and GM crops in Europe could fail’…One NGO representative was quoted as saying that, ‘Why can’t the Americans understand that this is not specifically about health and safety and labels and traceability; it’s a rebellion against industrial agriculture. We need to be talking about the emergence of new ways of farming which take social and environmental concerns into account, not just GMOs’…An important factor often omitted from the U.S. interpretation of the European conundrum is concern over the Americanization of European agricultural practices and food habits. This concern embodies dislike and fear of globalization in general…As one European…said, ‘There is a difference in what we want our countries to look like, not only with food but with all that goes with it.’ This ‘way of life’ statement echoed similar thoughts…one European said, ‘GM food was a concrete thing that gave us the feeling that the world was going to change radically with respect to food, control of food, and ultimately democracy’…The European consumer attitude to GMOs has evolved, not out of one or two big events such as growth hormones or ‘mad cow’ disease, but for many reasons that traverse the interdisciplinary spectrum of politics, science, economics, culture and social ethics.’” Peter Pringle, “The U.S.-European Biotechnology Initiative”, Workshop 3: Segregation, Traceability and Labeling of GM Crops – An Interpretative Summary of a Transatlantic Conservation About Biotechnology and Agriculture”, The German Marshall Fund of the United States (April 29, 2002), at pp. 3-8.
See Lawrence A. Kogan, “EU Regulation, Standardization and the Precautionary Principle: The Art of Crafting a Three- Dimensional Trade Strategy That Ignores Sound Science”, National Foreign Trade Council (Aug. 2003), at pp. 6-7. This document is accessible on the World Trade Organization website at: http://www.wto.org/english/forums_e/ngo_e/posp47_nftc_eu_reg_final_e.pdf . ]
[APPARENTLY, U.S. POLICYMAKERS HAVE ALREADY LOOKED INTO THE PAYMENT FOR ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES SCHEMES OF THE EUROPEAN UNION AND HAVE NOT LIKED WHAT THEY HAVE SEEN]
"Further developments in agri-environmental policy in both the United States and
the EU will likely depend at least in part on outcomes from ongoing multilateral
agricultural trade negotiations. If these negotiations result in further restrictions on
trade-distorting domestic commodity support, farmers, ranchers, and policymakers
may view increased funding for green payments as an attractive alternative for
providing support to agriculture. If further restrictions are required, it seems more
likely that the United States and the EU will look at the other’s policies and
experiences more closely. If such an examination demonstrates that historic and
current differences are extensive and difficult to overcome, it may be that a broad and
imprecise definition of green payments will serve the interests of diverse parties who
participate in farm policy debates.
For U.S. policy, the status of these negotiations in early 2007, when crafting the
next farm bill is likely to start in earnest, will be particularly important because
designers of this legislation and interest groups will likely give the status and
direction of these negotiations strong consideration as they contemplate farm bill
options. If the outcome of the negotiations is uncertain while the farm bill is being
debated, this uncertainty will compound the intensity of the debate, and possibly
result in the inclusion of language in legislation giving the Department greater
flexibility in implementation.
Congressional discussion of green payments may become contentious for other
reasons as well. One source of that contention may be the translation of the concept
into policies and programs. Most interests involved in farm policy who have
expressed an opinion support the general concept of green payments. But as the
discussions become more specific, participants may find that they have different
views about program design, funding allocations, administrative responsibilities and
similar questions, making it difficult to hold together coalitions of supporters.
Among the most difficult of these questions may be deciding whether such a program
should include a significant income support component and contribute to the “bottom
line” of each participant, or should it be limited to covering costs to install and
maintain conservation practices. A related question may be deciding what is to be accomplished through a green payment approach. Some may view it as meeting
international obligations, and seek a minimal program with limited impact to current domestic efforts, while others may view it is a major new and positive direction in farm policy, and seek to make it large and far-reaching. One aspect of discussing these options may be over whether payments should be based on cost-sharing for individual practices, which has a long history in agri-environmental policies, or on
the level of improved environmental performance that results from installing
Consideration of green payments may also include a debate over questions of
scale. To this point, all conservation programs are implemented at the scale of an
individual farm. Green payments could include additional incentives for coordinated
and collective action that have much larger cumulative benefits than actions on
individual farms are likely to result in. Such programs could be designed around the
magnitude of the benefits that the group provides, and grow or shrink for all members of the group as the participation, and therefore the benefits, change.
Differences between the United States and the EU in how green payments have been defined and translated into policy and programs may make consideration of EU agri-environmental policy as a model or source of ideas problematic.
Some aspects of EU policy, e.g., compulsory cross-compliance with agri-environmental measures as a condition for receiving price and income support, differ substantially from historical U.S. practice, in which cross-compliance has been far more sparingly
Spending on agri-environmental programs in the United States has been relatively less than in the EU, both as a portion of total federal spending for agriculture and as an amount spent.
Identifying sources of increased funding for agrienvironmental programs, even in the context of possible new WTO restrictions on other forms of farm support, might still be difficult given projected budget deficits. Even with new multilateral restrictions on farm subsidies, agri-environmental programs might compete unfavorably with the more conventional forms of farm support or with other WTO-compatible programs.
Apart from funding considerations, a consensus for linking agri-environment and rural development with more traditional farm program measures has not emerged in the United States as it apparently has in the EU. So the extent to which EU agri-environmental policy could serve as a model or source of ideas for U.S. agri-environmental policy remains to be seen. See Congressional Research Service Report RL32624 "Green Payments in U.S. and European Union Agricultural Policy" at CRS-19-20, at: http://www.nationalaglawcenter.org/assets/crs/RL32624.pdf].