Unsustainable Livestock Production
WTO and Livestock: Starving small farmers, feeding large agribusinesses
Taking a closer look at the WTO and its free trade model, and how it negatively impacts on the livestock and feedstock industries
April 10, 2017
In our report, ‘What’s at Steak?: The Real Cost of Meat’, we illustrate the many different impacts of the industrial livestock sector and how its unsustainable methods of production of meat and dairy products and feedstock crops negatively impact communities, Indigenous Peoples, small farmers, biodiversity, natural resources and animals.
In this briefing paper, we look more closely into the role that the free trade model and the rules imposed by the World Trade Organization (WTO) in particular have played in imposing an industrial agricultural model that is skewed to favour large agribusinesses, while pushing out small farmers and their sustainable and agro-ecological practices.
It is also a model that re-orients developing country markets for exports, relegating them to the lower-value ends of global commodity and value chains. Locking small economies into exporting feedstocks such as soy has left them unable to produce food for themselves, as is detailed in the case studies featured in ‘What’s at Steak?’. Here, we delve into the trade rules and economic model that perpetuate this system, and reflect on ways in which current WTO negotiations might create further livestock-related impacts.
What’s at steak? The real cost of meat
Industrial meat and dairy production is one of the highest contributors to forest loss, and to climate change at 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new report launched by the Global Forest Coalition at the Convention of Biodiversity in Cancun (CBD COP 13), Mexico
Simone Lovera’s presentation at “Out of the Shadows Post-Paris: Animal Agriculture & Climate Change”, side event at #COP22 #Marrakech with Brighter Green and Humane Society International.
Download the presentation here
Industrial and other forms of unsustainable livestock production have very real impacts on forests, climate and the environment. They also have devastating consequences for communities, Indigenous Peoples, peasants and women. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the global livestock sector contributes an estimated 14.5% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions using the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates,  as well as impacting water and biodiversity negatively. 
In this briefing paper we present excerpts of case studies in an upcoming publication by the Global Forest Coalition, in collaboration with researchers and social movements in a number of key countries, on the impacts of industrial livestock production.
Download the paper here
Welcome to Forest Cover No. 49, the Global Forest Coalition newsletter that provides a space for Southern and Northern environmental justice activists to present their views on international forest-related policies.
In this issue, we are focusing on Meat as a Driver of Deforestation with: ‘Peasants solutions to climate crisis’, ‘Post COP21 analysis of agriculture outcomes’, ‘Forest destruction for livestock production’.
The International Strategy Meeting on the Impacts of Unsustainable Livestock and Feed Production and Threats to Community Conservation in Paraguay was held at the Ykua Sati conference center in Asunción, Paraguay on November 28-29, 2014. The two day seminar was attended by more than 60 representatives from affected communities, social movements, and non-governmental organizations from 20 countries. It also brought together peasants, Indigenous Peoples, farm workers, campaigners and academics from different parts of Paraguay.
New Report: Meat from a Landscape Under Threat
Global Forest Coalition and Brighter Green have just released a new Report, “Meat from a Landscape Under Threat: Testimonies of the Impacts of Unsustainable Livestock and Soybean Production in Paraguay.”
Written by Dr. Miguel Lovera, this updated report on the social and environmental impacts of unsustainable livestock production focus on those testimonies presented at the workshop. The seminar, organized on November 28 and 29 of 2014 by the Global Forest Coalition together with national organizations in Paraguay, was entitled “Threats to Community Conservation in Paraguay and International Strategy Meeting on the Impacts of Unsustainable Livestock and Feed Production.” Attended by at least 60 representatives from affected communities, social movements, and organizations from 20 countries, it also brought together peasants, indigenous peoples, farmworkers, campaigners and academics from different areas of Paraguay. The seminar featured several presentations by community and NGO representatives from Paraguay, which demonstrated the extent of the impacts of the fast-expanding cattle ranching and soybean export business in the country. These are more than just their stories, these are vivid examples of the impacts directly lived by communities.
International commodities like beef, soy, palm oil, and wood have been recognized as some of the most important drivers of forest and biodiversity loss. Policies to make these commodity chains more sustainable in terms of quality and quantity cannot be the responsibility of the producing countries only. Measures to reduce deforestation triggered by commodity trade in one country will almost by definition lead to transboundary “leakage” of emissions if no measures are taken to address the levels of consumption of those products. Such policies also lead to unfair competition between more responsible producers and countries, and less responsible producers and countries.
Livestock and soy production in Paraguay are the most important primary production sectors. Most of the land in the country is privately controlled and devoted to the production of these commodities. Hence, most of the negative environmental impacts derive from these productive activities. Control is exerted by a combination of oligarchic groups and transnational interests.
This briefing paper raises awareness of the negative impacts of rapidly expanding industrial livestock farming and large-scale cattle ranching on the world’s forests and biodiversity. Industrial animal agriculture cuts across multiple sectors, affecting land use, water, food security, public health, and climate change. But too often these intersections are overlooked. It focuses on the Global Social, Cultural, Ecological, and Ethical Impacts of an Unsustainable Industry – and the Alternatives that Exist.