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Over 71% of EU farmland dedicated to meat and dairy

12 February 2019
by greenpeace -- last modified 12 February 2019

At least 71% of the EU's farmland is used to feed livestock, according to new research published by Greenpeace. Around 63% of arable land is dedicated to feeding farm animals.


Researchers calculated that 125 million hectares of land in Europe is used to graze livestock or produce feed. This land, and other targeted subsidies for livestock, is worth between €28-€32 billion in CAP direct payments per year for the animal farming sector, 18-20% of the EU's total budget.

Eurostat has shown that 72% of European livestock products come from Europe's largest farms, while the total number of livestock farms fell by 2.9 million, nearly a third, between 2005 and 2013.

Greenpeace EU agriculture policy director Marco Contiero said: "As scientists warn us that we have to cut meat to avoid environmental disaster, it's madness to pour good money after bad into industrial animal farming. The EU has a responsibility to use the CAP to help farmers move to ecological agriculture, rearing less but better animals, protecting our environment, climate and health. While small farms are disappearing at alarming rates, public money encourages the biggest farms to get bigger, this has to stop."

These findings come amid mounting scientific evidence of the damage done to the climate, the environment and public health by production and consumption of meat and dairy. In January, a new report by The Lancet recommended cutting red meat consumption in Europe by 77%.

Next steps for CAP

The next CAP, which will cover the years 2021-2027, is being negotiated between national governments and the European Parliament. On 14 February, the European Parliament's environment committee will vote on the European Commission's proposed CAP reform. A vote in the agriculture committee is planned for 6 or 7 March, and a vote in the Parliament's plenary session in April.

Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning network that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment and to promote peace. Greenpeace does not accept donations from governments, the EU, businesses or political parties.

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