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Critical role of animal protein highlighted at COP27

National Pork Board Hog farm barns pigs FDS operation.JPG
Protein PACT, other stakeholders to convene a total of nine events focused on animal agriculture's key role in sustainability solutions.

The Interamerican Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) convened its first-ever "Sustainable Agriculture in the Americas" pavilion at the UN Climate Summit (COP27) and partnered with the Protein PACT and other stakeholders to convene a total of nine events focused on animal agriculture's key role in sustainability solutions.

The Protein PACT events included a November 9 panel on sustainable livestock across regions and production systems, wherein National Pork Board Assistant Vice President Ashley McDonald shared U.S. pork's commitments to ethical principles, best practices, and documenting proof. The Pork Board and Pork Checkoff pioneered on-farm sustainability reports, which have been awarded $20 million in USDA Climate-Smart Commodities grant funding to expand measurement and implementation of climate-smart practices.

William Hohenstein, director of the office of energy and environmental policy at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), also gave a detailed presentation on mitigation and adaptation actions, including the significant incorporation of new technologies, innovation, and research.

“We have resources at our disposal, thanks to the fact that this year the United States approved the Inflation Reduction Act that has implemented the most important climate change agenda that we have ever had in this country. We are reaching all livestock farmers in the country, with more than 70 projects, valuing 3 billion dollars across all the states. This includes beef, pork, poultry, and dairy producers,” said Hohenstein.

He further explained that the initiatives seek to assist producers, who have been heavily impacted by climate change, in achieving resilience through various actions, including the application of good practices in the management of animals, water, land and other natural resources. “There is still a great deal of work to be done,” he said.

North American Meat Institute Chief Strategy Officer Eric Mittenthal moderated a November 10 panel featuring scientific evidence on the essential dietary contributions of animal-source foods and optimizing animal agriculture's environmental impact.

The Meat Institute's first-ever continuous improvement data report released last week found that among companies accounting for an estimated 90% of meat sold in the United States, 81% of reporting facilities are covered by company-wide commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Meat Institute aims for 100% of members to have delivered emissions reduction targets approved by the Science-Based Targets Initiative by 2030.

Speaking on the November 10 panel, Dr. Adegbola Adesogan, director of the University of Florida Food Systems Institute commented, “Most common measures of environmental impact ignore nutrient-density - the contribution of foods to achieving recommended intakes of critical nutrients. Sustainability solutions must ensure sustainable production of animal-source foods, which are ‘brain foods’ for the children our future depends on.”

Eating meat, dairy, and eggs improves children's cognition and growth, and raising animals for food provides livelihoods and is a cornerstone of many cultures, particularly in the Global South, he added.

Dr. Manual Otero, director general of IICA, welcomed the Protein PACT's partnership.

"The livestock sector is moving at full tilt towards sustainability in the Americas and around the world and continues to play a central and invaluable role in global food security. IICA and its member states will continue to champion at COP27 and future COPs the critical role of sustainable agriculture, including livestock production, in the Americas,” he said.

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