Research institutes, consultants, agricultural organisations, livestock farmers and other stakeholders from 9 EU member states are joining forces to accelerate the exchange of ideas on how to make European cattle farming more sustainable. In the new trans-European network BovINE, they will perform concrete work on the themes of socio-economic resilience, animal health and welfare, production efficiency and meat quality, climate and environment. In doing so, the 17 partners will identify the most urgent needs present in practice. To do so, each Member State will involve not only a research institute but also an agricultural organisation. The Belgian partners in this network are ILVO and Boerenbond.
The 9 Member States represented in the new network together account for 75% of the suckler cow population and 70% of beef and veal production in Europe. They are Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Portugal and Spain. The European beef sector consists of 255,000 farms, but no organisation or network specifically dedicated to research or innovation in that sector has yet been established.
Karen Goossens (ILVO expert on cattle farming): "Beef cattle farmers are faced with questions about sustainable production and how to reconcile this with the tight economic margins and negative image of meat. They see innovation as part of the solution. BovINE will help them and us to learn more from their colleagues in Europe and exchange experiences. We are delighted to be part of this new network". Content-wise, ILVO will be able to contribute through its expertise in sustainability, climate and network building (multi-actor approach).
Boerenbond is committed to use its own channels to bring the results and findings from the network to Flemish cattle farmers. Dirk Audenaert (Boerenbond): "The challenges facing cattle farmers appear to be quite similar in these 9 countries. The economic viability of the sector will become an important theme in this network".
The Irish research institute Teagasc is coordinator of the network. Prof Maeve Henchion, coordinator of BovINE and head of the department Agrifood and spatial analysis at Teagasc: "In BovINE we use a bottom-up strategy to identify the knowledge needs of meat farmers. Each year, we will ask them about their most urgent needs. We will respond by identifying existing solutions that are common in other countries and sharing them in the network. On the other hand, we will look for potential new solutions, based on new research results, and test those solutions on demo farms. Only when we are sure that a solution is technically and economically feasible, we will promote them in the network for broad application".
BovINE is a Horizon2020 project funded by the European Commission.
Karen Goossens, ILVO: email@example.com