Launched today in 7 European countries, a video appeal illustrates the Farm to Fork paradoxes which hinder the green transition

The European livestock sector offers to share its know-how for a genuinely sustainable production system.

The European livestock sector presented today “The 9 paradoxes of Farm to Fork”, a call to actively participate in the current sustainability challenge to develop and implement an effective and adequate Farm to Fork strategy for Europe. Born from an initiative of Carni Sostenibili and European Livestock Voice, the series of videos was launched simultaneously in 7 European countries and languages: Belgium, Italy, France, Spain, Germany, Portugal and Poland.

The videos highlight the fact that despite good intentions, the Farm to Fork strategy does not take into consideration the actual situation and challenges of the livestock sector. They reflect the will of the whole chain to be actively involved in the great green transition process, now in progress.

The paradoxes identified reflect misconceptions and prejudices surrounding the livestock sector in terms of the environment, health and the economy. They reveal inaccuracies in the understanding of:

  • The nutritional value of meat
  • The consistency of land use for livestock farming activities
  • The environmental sustainability of the European livestock chain
  • The economic impact of the sector
  • The protection of animal welfare
  • The use of natural vs chemical fertilizers
  • Job security and employment in rural areas  
  • The gastronomic and cultural heritage of animal-source products
  • The  security and availability of our food products

The Farm to Fork strategy, at the heart  of the European Green Deal, can be an opportunity to enhance the results achieved by the European agricultural and livestock system: the challenge lies in research, innovation and technology. It is also crucial to ensure sufficient production to respond to the growing demand for food using fewer resources – says Giuseppe Pulina, President of Carni Sostenibili (Sustainable Meat) – Today, those working in the zootechnics supply chain have the duty to help decision makers not to waste the great opportunity to guide the agri-food system for more than the next 10 years” .

“Livestock has been – and still is – blamed for many evils. We may not be perfect, but it is only fair to highlight the numerous measures already taken and the substantial progress made by all in our sector. And it is still work in progress. The videos we launch today reflect the reality of livestock and aim to debunk common misconceptions, many of which unfortunately presided over the planning of the Farm to Fork strategy. It is crucial to make our voice heard, because we want to be part of

the current process which will determine the future, and because we wish to make ourselves available to share our knowledge and experience with policy-makers, during the ongoing discussions on F2F” said Birthe Steenberg, Secretary General of AVEC (Poultry meat sector), speaking in the name of European Livestock Voice.

The full version video is available and embeddable for publication at the following link.

If you are interested in this issue, join us on 5 May for a follow-up debate with expert speakers from all sides of the spectrum. More to come from @LivestockVoice on Twitter.

Euro Foie Gras is glad to take part in the European Livestock Voice’s work to support telling the truth on the sector.

A European Livestock Voice and Carni Sostenibili communication.

The Board meeting of Euro Foie Gras (EFG) took place on March 4. It was an opportunity to address the various topics of current interest for the fat palmipeds sector at the European level and in the member states.

On the sanitary front, the situation has stabilised in France and the CIFOG (French Foie Gras Interbranch Organisation) is mobilised to analyse the reasons for the virulent episode of avian influenza that has hit the sector in recent weeks. On the economic front, the lack of certainty regarding the reopening of the Horeca sector (restaurants, bars, hotels, etc.) makes the outlook for 2021 difficult to establish.

On a more positive note, the Federation is looking forward to starting its European promotion programme, which was approved at the end of last year by the European Commission. This programme will make it possible to promote foie gras, an iconic and local product, in several producing countries: France, Belgium, Spain and Hungary.

In addition, EFG reiterated the importance of asserting its position regarding EU marketing standards for agricultural products: maintaining the definition of raw foie gras and adding a definition of processed foie gras. The Federation had participated in the European Commission’s first consultation on this subject on February 15 and will participate in the second one, which should take place in the second quarter.

Finally, EFG members reiterated their willingness to continue the joint work begun a few months ago to develop European animal welfare indicators, work that complements initiatives at national level. It is important that this topic moves away from the purely emotional to a scientifically sound basis for objectively assessing animal breeding conditions. The Federation will continue to contribute to the ongoing debate at the European level by drawing on the latest scientific data and by inviting anyone interested to visit a foie gras farm.

Euro Foie Gras has contributed to the European Commission’s public consultation on marketing standards for agricultural products.

In this contribution Euro Foie Gras states that it fully shares the European Commission’s view that “Marketing standards help facilitate the functioning of the internal market, keep food of unsatisfactory quality off the market, provide relevant information to consumers, and ensure a level playing field for competing products.” Euro Foie Gras also insists on the key role played by marketing standards in preserving and promoting the European agricultural know-how, the culinary heritage as well as the diversity of the agricultural types of farming.

The Federation supports the European Commission’s willingness to provide better food information to consumers and to support sustainable food systems. Moreover, citizens’ freedom to choose the food they want to eat should be preserved and each consumer should be able to make informed choices without being victims of misleading and fraudulent practices.

That is why, Euro Foie Gras calls for:

• Maintaining the definition of raw foie gras in its current wording;

• Completing this text with the insertion of the definition of processed foie gras.


Read our full contribution

Read our position paper on marketing standards

European Livestock Voice, a multi-stakeholder group promoting science-based facts on livestock, organised a webinar on animal welfare labelling on 28 January 2021.

Speakers with different backgrounds took the word on this hot topic. Here are some important points:

Trine Vig Tamstorf, Chief policy advisor for animal health and welfare for the Danish Agriculture and Food Council, firstly highlighted that farmers care about their animals, and consider animal welfare as an absolute priority. She underlined that establishing a labelling only focused on animal welfare is too narrow. The scope should be broadened by including other aspects such as environment because animal welfare is just one element of sustainability.

This important aspect was also stressed by Denis Simonin, Senior Expert on animal welfare at the European Commission’s DG Health and Food Safety. He explained that one of the actions of the EU Farm to Fork Strategy is to create a sustainable food labelling framework. Aspects like environment, nutrient profiles, or animal welfare could be part of this overall framework. Moreover, a key question is how the existing and the future animal welfare labelling schemes can fit together. He evoked two different options: existing schemes will be parallel schemes or existing schemes will position themselves as benchmarks.

Animal welfare will always be subject to societal ideas, he added. A scientific approach is needed but taking consumers’ and farmers’ views into consideration is also necessary.

Finally, Trine Vig Tamstorf strongly encouraged farm visits to burn the myths and let the public see the farming conditions on the ground. Euro Foie Gras is always happy to organise farm visits, as it enables to confront ideas with the reality (if the sanitary conditions allow it).

Euro Foie Gras is glad to take part in the European Livestock Voice’s work to support telling the truth on the sector.

Read the entire summary here

In case you missed it, here is the recording of the webinar:

What are European citizens’ expectations concerning their food in the future? To answer this question, the European Commission has commissioned an opinion poll, called Eurobarometer.

This report shows that the 3 main factors influencing Europeans’ food purchases are, in order, taste, food safety and cost.

Furthermore, they associate sustainable food and diet with the nutritional qualities of products and health rather than the environmental dimension. Nearly a quarter of consumers consider local and short supply chains as an important feature of sustainable food.

Moreover, healthy and sustainable food means variety and home cooking rather than less meat consumption for Europeans. For 58% of respondents, a healthy and sustainable diet involves eating a variety of different foods, having a balanced diet and eating more fruit and vegetables. 47% mentioned eating seasonal and local food and 43% chose eating more home-cooked meals. Only 35% of respondents chose to eat meat less often.

Finally, a large majority of consumers (89%) are in favour of clear labelling to help them make informed choices.

Euro Foie Gras is pleased to see that consumers favour taste, a diversified diet, local consumption and informative labels. Euro Foie Gras’ members work hard to produce quality food for the consumer. European foie gras production is extensive, open-air and often family-run. Producers are the custodians of a terroir and traditional know-how that is the pride of European gastronomy.

Find the full report and its summary here.

On 14th of October, the European Commission published an external report entitled “Future of EU livestock: how to contribute to a sustainable agricultural sector?”, written by Dr Jean-Louis Peyraud (INRAE) and Dr. Michael MacLeod (SRUC). This study contributes to the debate on the sustainability of the livestock sector. It outlines the importance of the livestock sector and the challenges it faces. Please find below a summary of this report:

Livestock farming is of crucial importance for many European regions, economically, socially and environmentally. In 2017, the value of livestock production and livestock products in the EU was equal to 170 billion euros, representing 40% of the total agricultural turnover. The EU-28 is a net exporter on the world market and the international trade surplus in livestock commodities has steadily increased since 2000, reaching 3.7 billion euros in 2019. Moreover, the sector employs around 4 million people. Poultry and pig farms are the largest farms in terms of the number of salaried positions.

A nuanced environmental impact

In 2017, the agricultural sector generated 10% of total EU greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), less than industry (38%) or transport (21%). Globally, half of the agricultural land used for livestock consists of permanent grassland and marginal land that cannot be readily cultivated and are used exclusively by ruminants. Some temporary grassland could certainly be cultivated but that will lead to the loss of ecosystem services they provided.

A decrease in livestock farming in Europe would have negative environmental consequences

The idea of reducing the EU livestock production as a way of simultaneously tackling environmental and dietary issues is to be considered with caution. As a matter of fact, the global demand for livestock product is increasing and the European livestock sector is more efficient than in numerous other parts of the world. This idea may thus lead to net increases in environmental impact.

Furthermore, the net environmental impacts of reducing livestock in Europe could have negative impacts in terms of land use. Conversion of pastures to arable crops could lead to soil carbon losses and increased pesticides use, while conversion of pasture to woodland will provide benefits in terms of carbon storage, but may have negative impacts on, for example, rural vitality or wildfire risk.   

Challenges for the future

The sector faces certain challenges to ensure that Europe can meet its medium and long-term commitments. According to the report, several issues will have to be addressed in the future (2030-2050), among others:

  • Reduction of GHG emission (as agriculture and in particular livestock are partly responsible for this as they represent an important source of greenhouse gas)
  • Improvement of animal welfare
  • Improvement and enhancement of innovation in farming systems.

The Farm to Fork strategy has the potential to improve European agriculture. The main goal would be to reach a low carbon, resource efficient agri-food system that provides a wide range of environmental goods and services (such as healthy soils, biodiversity and an attractive landscape).

The study concludes that the debate about livestock should be broadened and moved away from simplistic plant vs animal or extensive vs intensive positions as livestock contributes to many of the sustainable development goals.

Consult the report



Diced duck breast on cereal crackers

Preparation time: 5 min

Cooking time: 16 min

For 4 people :

– 1 duck magret

– Cereal crackers

– Salt flower

– Espelette pepper

– Fresh thyme

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Take the duck magret out of the fridge.

Cut them in crosswise slits on the skin side.

Place the duck breast in a frying pan, skin side down, and brown it for 10 minutes on a low heat, discarding the fat several times.

When the skin is crispy, place it on a baking tray and leave to cook for 6 to 8 minutes in the oven.

Cut the duck breast into large cubes and place them on the crackers cut to the same size.

Salt, then add moderately the Espelette pepper and a few sprigs of fresh thyme.


Small pan-fried Foie Gras escalopes on candied apples

Preparation time: 10 min

Cooking time: 13 min

For 4 people :

– 4 small escalopes of raw Foie Gras

– 1 apple

– 15g of butter

– 1 tablespoon of oil

– Salt flower

– Ground pepper

– Fresh thyme

Cut the apple into quarters.

Heat the butter and oil in a frying pan over a low heat and then gently brown the apple quarters for 5 minutes per side. Deglaze with the cider vinegar, salt and pepper.

In the meantime, brown the Foie Gras escalopes in a second frying pan for 1 min 30 per side over medium heat without adding any fat. Season with salt and pepper and serve the escalopes immediately on the apple quarters.


Shredded duck in a pasta nest

Preparation time: 10 min

Cooking time: 10 min

For 4 people :

– 1 leg of duck confit

– 50 g of Alsatian nests

– Salt

– Ground pepper

– Spinach shoots

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Put the duck confit in the oven and leave to cook for 8 minutes.

Remove the skin then finely shred the flesh around the bones.

Lower the thermostat to 140°C then set the shredded meat aside in the oven.

In the meantime, cook the pasta for 5 minutes in a small pot of boiling salted water, keeping the shape of the nests.

Drain them then serve them on plates by adding a spoonful of shredded duck to the nests.

Pepper and decorate the plate with a few spinach shoots.


This recipe comes from the CIFOG, consult their website to find other ideas for dishes based on foie gras, magret and confit.



The EU Commission published a staff working document on the evaluation of marketing standards.

This document concludes that EU marketing standards have generally “been effective in achieving their intended objectives, without causing significant unintended/unexpected effects (…)”. Moreover, the document states that the cost of EU marketing standards are justifiable and proportionate to the benefits achieved, regardless of the sector.

The current EU marketing standards define raw foie gras as duck livers of at least 300gr and goose livers of at least 400gr. If this definition would be removed, the report highlights that “this would not guarantee the presence of hepatic fatty cellular hypertrophy, which is considered to be essential to the taste and quality of the product.” It adds that these minimum weights are the “only available means for the national competent authorities to control the product in a simple way.” Removing these weights criteria would thus mislead the consumer.

However, there is no definition for processed foie gras, which represents 80% of the foie gras sold. The problem is explained in the document: “A specific assessment revealed that the definition of ‘foie gras’ was perceived as having some limitations in preventing fraudulent practices, because there was no EU definition for processed foie gras (France is alone in having a national definition).”

Fraudulent practices are frequent, due to the luxury character of the product.

Therefore, in order to ensure the quality of foie gras and protect consumers, Euro Foie Gras calls for maintaining the definition of raw foie gras and adding the definition of processed foie gras.

Read the executive summary of the staff working document on the evaluation

Read our position paper on marketing standards for foie gras

Access our infographic

On the 26th of November at 12:00, the Spanish campaign #RealidadGanadera (the reality of livestock) will be launched. This campaign aims to inform the public about the social and economic value of the livestock sector in Spain, highlighted with scientific evidence. It will deconstruct preconceived ideas and fake news that can be read about livestock, one of the most demanding sectors in terms of animal welfare, environment, providing consumers with quality, healthy and safe products. Consumers need scientific, unbiased facts, which will be provided through this campaign.

A website, containing all the information on Spanish livestock, will be made available on the 26th of November:  www.realidadganadera.es.

The initiative has been created by a group of agri-food organisations including Interpalm, the Spanish Interprofessional Association of Fat Palmipeds, one of Euro Foie Gras’ members. This campaign is the Spanish version of the European #MeattheFacts campaign, launched last year by a consortium of European associations, including Euro Foie Gras.

Read more on the campaign (in Spanish)

Register here for the launch on 26/11

The Sauvenière farm, an artisanal farm nestled in the heart of the Walloon countryside, has opened its doors to Sophie Pécriaux and Eddy Fontaine, two Belgian PS MPs, to make them discover the foie gras production. The reality on the ground allows us to better understand a sector and to talk about it with full knowledge of the facts , explains Eddy Fontaine.

After seeing the ducklings, kept warm while their plumage is sufficiently plump to go outside, the MPs visited the outdoor areas. The ducks walk freely in the fields for up to 12 weeks. Valérie van Wynsberghe, who runs the family farm, explains that the welfare of the ducks is a priority: “If we want to have quality products, animals must be bred in good conditions, in a pleasant and healthy environment”.

The duck is then fattened for 12 days by trained professionals in a building close to the farm.

Eddy Fontaine stresses: “It is important to defend the sector. (…) A Walloon MP has a duty to defend all the sectors, as long as the standards are respected, which is obviously the case in Wallonia. »

The visit ended with a traditional convivial tasting of rillettes and foie gras, local and artisanal products that delight the taste buds.

Watch the CanalZ’s report on our visit and read the article in the Nouvelle Gazette.

Picture: on the left: Sophie Pécriaux and Eddy Fontaine; on the right: Valérie van Wynsberghe.

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