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The livestock sector is undergoing rapid changes in response to pressures from globalization and rapidly growing demand for animal food products in developing countries. The centre of gravity of livestock production is moving South, and a few developing countries are emerging as powerful new players on the global scene. At the same time, the market chains for livestock and their products are rapidly being transformed. While trade is expanding much faster than production, it is constantly under threat by disease outbreaks and this puts increasing pressure on veterinary services to improve their management of transboundary diseases.

There are social and environmental consequences of this growth and transformation of the sector and increasingly policy makers are realizing that the impressive performance in production and trade comes at a cost. Small scale producers are being marginalized and environmental degradation is occurring, both from industrial and extensive forms of livestock production. Intensification of livestock systems and market demands also create a threat to the diversity of animal genetic resources.

The Animal Production and Health Division of FAO has a global mandate to foster informed decision-making on the challenges facing the livestock sector, particularly those of developing and emerging economies. The Livestock Report 2006 is intended as a vehicle to generate debate and feedback from those most concerned with the development of the livestock sector, be they policymakers, researchers, producers or facilitators. It seeks to highlight critical and diverse issues of the global livestock sector in the area of animal production and health, and associated economic analysis and policies. This is the first of a series of reports. Suggestions for topics to be covered in future editions would be welcome, as well as comments on the issues raised in the Livestock Report 2006.

Samuel Jutzi
Animal Production and Health Division

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