Comparisons between the ramifications of the European Union's Green Deal and issues Australia's livestock industries are grappling with were inescapable when laid on the table at the LIVEXchange conference in Darwin.
The senior veterinary advisor to the European Union's federation representing livestock markets, traders, and the meat processing industry, Carolina Cucurella told attendees that the Green Deal was probably the biggest challenge the livestock industry in Europe was facing since the BSE crisis in 1986.
The pathway to meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement in Europe proposes a comprehensive review of animal welfare legislation and a transition to different food production systems, which Ms Cucurella said couldn't be achieved without changes to food consumption patterns.
"That means the Commissioner is relying on a reduction of farming activities in Europe," she said.
There are 70 million head of cattle in Europe and 60 million sheep and goats, and numbers of both are declining.
The EU exports more than a million cattle to Mediterranean countries, eastern Europe and the Middle East, along with 2.76m sheep and goats, by road and by sea.
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Ms Cucurella said that under the Green Deal's Farm to Fork strategy, reduced consumption of red meat was being promoted as one of its 27 action plans, along with a revision of the union's animal welfare management practices on farm and in transport industries.
"For transport there is the banning of the export of animals to third countries, or a switch to assurance systems," she said. "It sounds familiar to Australia - we think the commissioner was inspired by your ESCAS system."
In words that mirror the complexities of suggestions that Australia suspend its live export trade with Indonesia, Ms Cucurella said that if the export of animals from Europe to northern African countries was banned, there was a possibility it would be replaced with imports from countries such as Brazil.
The global ramification of that strategy could be longer journeys for cattle, and a deeper environmental footprint.
"Most of the ambitions of the EU commissioner respond to pressure originated by citizens' perceptions of what is animal welfare," she said.
"Normally, this is without any knowledge of regulations or having stepped on farms.
"The impacts of some policies would be devastating for the industry, but scientific evidence on what the new legislation will be built is scarce. More research is needed for sound science-based rules."
Ms Cucurella added that the Green Deal included plans to ban imports from countries where deforestation was taking place.
Like the Meat & Livestock Australia's Red Meat, Green Facts campaign, the European Livestock and Meat Trades Union has created a #Meatthefacts initiative to counteract some messages.
In another parallel with Australia, Ms Cucurella showed the problems a rampant wild boar population was creating in her region of Catalonia, while sharing the extent of the spread of African Swine Fever in Europe.
She said the density of the porcine population was enormous in the region's huge forests, so much so that they were roaming the streets of towns and cities and attacking people.
ASF outbreaks, put down to lapses in biosecurity, were occuring randomly, resulting in uncertainty as to where the next outbreak would occur.
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