Globalized livestock markets offer both benefits and risks – UN report

13 April 2005

Although globalized livestock markets can increase national income and improve nutrition, they also pose potential risks to livelihoods, human health and the environment ranging from the exclusion of small producers to the threat of a global closedown due to disease, according to a new United Nations report released today.

Although globalized livestock markets can increase national income and improve nutrition, they also pose potential risks to livelihoods, human health and the environment ranging from the exclusion of small producers to the threat of a global closedown due to disease, according to a new United Nations report released today.

Proposing a framework to help member countries deal with globalization's unintended consequences, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) called for greater dialogue between the international community and national governments and between the public and private sectors.

“Well managed, a globalized livestock sector can benefit the national economy, provide employment, promote technology transfer, increase food safety and raise the diversity of food products available,” FAO said in the report to its Committee on Agriculture at the start of four-day meeting in Rome.

Consumers will also benefit from more competition, reduced prices and an increase in product quality due to higher food standards.

But small producers may find it difficult to make the necessary investment, with large retailers and supermarkets shifting to centralized procurement systems, selecting producers meeting quality and safety standards. These can become non-tariff-barriers, as expensive to overcome as the former tariffs.

Globalized markets are also typically riskier for producers. The entire market can close down with the outbreak of a disease or discovery of a quality problem and small producers and traders have limited ability to insure themselves against losses.

Another concern in developing countries is the pollution of soil and water caused by waste from commercial livestock units.

The livestock sector, traditionally based on local production and consumption, supports the livelihoods of an estimated 600 million rural poor, and meat production in developing countries has grown by 230 per cent and milk production by 200 per cent since the early 1980s, the study notes.

 

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