Sustainability | Overview, Quick Facts and Resources

In an increasingly crowded world, with our natural resources under ever more strain, we need to do more with less

Today, we share the world with over 7 billion people. By 2050, that number will grow to over 10 billion, and 5 billion of those people will be in the ‘middle class’  Each one of those people deserves safe, nutritious, and affordable food, and many will expect meat to be a foundation of their diet.

Sustainability producing more food for this growing population will be the challenge of a generation. This is a staggering problem, but, one that livestock farmers are facing head-on.

Currently, one in five animals in the food chain is lost due to preventable disease. This is not only a threat to animal welfare, it’s a waste of limited natural resources.

Animals that struggle with disease will need more resources to aid in their recovery and may never produce as much than if they did not fall ill. Healthy livestock are simply more productive.

This is why preventative care like vaccinations or good nutrition are important in continually improving livestock sustainability. 

Good nutrition improves the natural immunity of an animal, similar to when people take vitamin supplements, while vaccines build on this foundation. Other steps such as improving biosecurity, for example by rearing more animals indoors, keeps disease away from animals altogether

However, disease can never be fully prevented. When it strikes, intervention with targeted treatments like antibiotics can help an animal recover quickly. 

For a dairy cow, this can mean a quick return to milk production for the surrounding community. This improves the overall sustainability of the system since other foods do not need to be grown to replace any lost productivity. 

Sustainability is always on the minds of farmers. Producing more with fewer resources leads to not just a smaller footprint for the industry, but, also to better income for their operation.

With so many animals lost to preventable disease, improving control is one of the best steps we can take to feeding our world without ever sacrificing our environment.

Quick Facts

  • Efficiency for sustainability: New medicines such as improved vaccinations alongside better diagnostics and animal husbandry techniques have made farming increasingly efficient. In fact, in 2010, producing a kilogram of U.S. eggs generated 70% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than in 1960.
  • Sustainable diets are complex: Researchers have found that certain fruits and vegetables can produce more 'emissions per calorie' than many types of me. As the team put it -- “Eating lettuce is over three times worse in greenhouse gas emissions than eating bacon," which highlights why varied diets that include meat can be environmentally friendly.
  • Rising middle class: By 2030, there will be five billion people in the middle class across every continent. With greater purchasing power, this group will incorporate meat into their diet. Producing more meat with fewer resources will be essential. Better medicines, management and innovation will be the cornerstone of meeting this challenge.