July 16, 2024

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How the Belgian meat industry can make progress in sustainability

3 min read

At the roundtable, Michael Gore, managing director at FEBEV, Belgium’s national trade association for red meat, Joris Coenen, a manager at the Belgian Meat Office, and Hélène Simonin, director of sustainability and food policy at the European Livestock and Meat Trades Union, spoke about their perception of a dearth of knowledge of the food industry among the higher echelons of the European Commission, as well as the need for a more scientific approach to sustainability.

The data behind the dream

As part of its Farm to Fork Strategy, the EU aims to have 25% organic farmland by 2030. According to the EU, land farmed organically is 30% more biodiverse than land that isn’t, is beneficial to soil health, and even benefits animal welfare.

The speakers at the roundtable were, however, highly critical of the EU’s goal. The Belgian Meat office’s Coenen suggested that “the problem comes also from setting wrong goals. 25% of land should be organic just like that? It’s not realistic​.”

This is what we call an aspirational policy​,” added the European Livestock and Meat Trades Union’s Simonin. “They have an idea of what they want, but they don’t have policy behind it​.”

In contrast, they discussed FEBEV’s sustainability monitor, which presents data on the sustainability of farmers across the Belgian meat sector. The monitor, which became compulsory for FEBEV’s members in July, analyses the sustainability of participating farmers’ activities. Its farmers undertake yearly audits of the sustainability of their agricultural practices, and it is built around the UN’s sustainable development goals.

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