LONDON – Minister of State Jim Paice at the Department for Environment, Food and Affairs (DEFRA), has approved industry efforts to achieve a more sustainable livestock sector in the UK.

In a debate on a private members’ bill, Paice said the government would continue to work with the livestock industry as it makes concrete progress towards sustainability, and will take a keen interest in ensuring that this progress is maintained. He added the government was willing to participate in a conference of all interested parties to take stock of progress and what needed to be done and to publish a report on achievements.

“We are unequivocally committed to a more sustainable livestock sector, and to achieve that we need a true partnership, with government and civil society working with a livestock sector that is ready to show the leadership and resolve that’s needed,” Paice said. “The government will work closely with everyone involved, and I hope that farming and environmental groups take us up on our offer to participate in a conference that takes stock of where we are and where we need to go.

“We’re also working to secure global solutions to the global problem of deforestation, whether it’s caused by demand for agricultural land or for other reasons, and we saw strong progress in Nagoya last month, with an agreement to link climate change, global poverty and biodiversity together in protecting the world’s forests,” he added.

Paice praised the farming industry for taking the initiative to develop product roadmaps for greater sustainability. The dairy, beef and sheep meat sectors already having roadmaps in place, while the pork sector is are currently preparing its own plans. Paice is also looking forward to seeing the industry partnership’s delivery plan for reducing on-farm greenhouse gas emissions in England.

Although the government supported the sentiment behind the Bill, it did not agree that legislation was the answer, he said.

“These goals are completely in step with DEFRA business plan, which was published this week – but legislation is not the most effective way to get us there and indeed, could inadvertently slow down the progress that’s already underway by imposing unnecessary, centralized bureaucracy,” he concluded.