Evaluation of the contribution of 16 European beef production systems to food security
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CitationClaire Mosnier, Anne Jarousse, Pauline Madrange, Jimmy Balouzat, Maëva Guillier, Giacomo Pirlo, Alexandre Mertens, Edward ORiordan, Christoph Pahmeyer, Sylvain Hennart, Louise Legein, Paul Crosson, Mark Kearney, Philippe Dimon, Carlo Bertozzi, Edouard Reding, Miriam Iacurto, James Breen, Sara Carè, Patrick Veysset, Evaluation of the contribution of 16 European beef production systems to food security, Agricultural Systems, Volume 190, 2021, 103088, ISSN 0308-521X, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agsy.2021.103088.
AbstractContext Livestock production, and more particularly ruminants, is criticized for its low conversion efficiency of natural resources into edible food. Objective The objectives of this paper are to propose an evaluation of the contribution to food security of different European cattle farms through three criteria: 1) food production assessed by the amount of human-edible protein (HEP) and energy (HEE) produced at farm level, 2) feed-food competition at the beef production scale estimated in terms of net human-edible protein and energy and in terms of land used, and 3) food affordability assessed by the production cost of meat, protein and energy. Methods The analysis is based on 16 representative beef production systems in France, Belgium, Ireland, Italy and Germany and covers cow-calf systems, finishing systems, dairy and mixed dairy- finishing systems, with or without cash crops. Results and conclusions The results show that, at the farm level, systems producing both beef and milk or cereals have higher HEP and HEE production per hectare (up to 370 kg of HEP and 60,000 106J.ha−1) than specialized beef systems (up to 50 kg of HEP and 1600 106J.ha−1) and have lower production costs (approximately €6 kg−1 of HEP in mixed beef system and €29 kg−1 of HEP in a specialized cow-calf-fattener system). Beef systems are almost all HEE net consumers. Results are more variable concerning net HEP efficiency. The cow-calf enterprises are mostly net producers of HEP but, in order to produce human edible meat, these systems need to be combined with finishing systems that are mostly net consumers of HEP. In most cases, cow-calf-finishing systems are net consumers of HEP (between 0.6 and 0.7) but grass-based systems using very little concentrates or systems using co-products not edible by humans are net HEP producers. The grass-based systems use more land area per kilogram of carcass but a major part of this area is non-tilled land, thus these systems are not in direct competition with human food production. The lowest meat production costs are the finishing systems producing the most live weight per livestock unit (LU) per year and dairy systems in lowland which share the costs between milk and meat. Significance Although most of HEE and HEP efficient farms typically have higher meat production costs, some grassland based systems stand out positively for all indicators. These results pave the way for improvements of the contribution of beef production systems to food security. Graphical abstract Net Human Edible Protein and Energy Efficiencies of meat production (M_HEP_eff and M_HEE_eff).
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