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Livestock in the balance

Livestock contribute 40 percent of the global value of agricultural output and support the livelihoods and food security of almost a billion people. Rapidly rising incomes and urbanization, combined with underlying population growth, are driving demand for meat and other animal products in many developing countries.

These changes and the speed with which they are occurring have created systemic risks for livelihoods, human and animal health and the environment. To meet the challenges and constraints of the twenty-first century, the livestock sector requires appropriate institutions, research, development interventions and governance that reflect the diversity within the sector and the multiple demands placed upon it.

About the series

The State of Food and Agriculture, FAO’s major annual flagship publication, aims at bringing to a wider audience balanced science-based assessments of important issues in the field of food and agriculture. Each edition of the report contains a comprehensive, yet easily accessible, overview of a selected topic of major relevance for rural and agricultural development and for global food security. This is supplemented by a synthetic overview of the current global agricultural situation.

For more information contact Terri Raney

Main messages

  • The livestock sector is expanding rapidly, driven by population growth, rising affluence and urbanization.

  • Decisive action is required if increasing demand is to be met in ways that are environmentally sustainable and contribute to poverty alleviation and improved human health.

  • The contribution of the livestock sector to poverty alleviation should be enhanced through appropriate policy reform and investments within a framework of broader rural development policies.

  • Governance of the livestock sector should be strengthened to ensure that its development is environmentally sustainable and that it both adapts to and contributes to mitigating climate change.

  • The neglect of animal-health systems in many parts of the world must be redressed, and producers at every level must be involved in the development of animal-disease and food-safety programmes.

Interview with Terri Raney,
editor of The State of Food and Agriculture