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Leading the development of more sustainable European livestock production systems

Leading the development of more sustainable European livestock production systems

STEP UP is a four year research project funded under Horizon Europe, the EU’s flagship funding programme for research and innovation. The Teagasc-led project aims to support the development of more economically, environmentally and socially sustainable European livestock production systems (ELPS).

STEP UP will actively involve farmers, data providers, research institutions, and other industry experts, policymakers, the European Commission, and other key agri-food industry actors.

The project was launched this week by the Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, with responsibility for research and innovation, Martin Heydon T.D. A consortium of 16 partner organisations from across Europe gathered at the Teagasc Ashtown Conference Centre, Dublin on Wednesday 7th and Thursday 8th February 2024, to officially kick-off the project.  

A core objective of STEP UP is to generate clear, unambiguous and quantitative information to support greater sustainability, viability and resilience of environmentally compatible European Livestock Production Systems. Through state-of-the-art research methodologies and thorough and effective stakeholder engagement, STEP UP will deliver a platform of measures to support European policy makers with science-based evidence on the impacts and externalities of ELPS, as part of the food and wider ecosystem.

Launching the project, Minister Heydon remarked: “With 90% of Irish farms having some form of livestock farming activity, this area plays a vital socio-economic role in rural Ireland and this is also the case in many EU countries.

“Irish livestock farming is embracing a wide range of practices to improve sustainability, from breeding more sustainable animals to using less fertiliser, which also produces lower emissions, as well as incorporating multi-species swards and clover into grassland, amongst other areas.

“Research and innovation have driven the development of these and for this reason; I am delighted to be launching this new, pan-European research project STEP-UP. Through the involvement of 16 partners across 10 countries, I am confident that the research will provide valuable insights and data for the benefit of European livestock production and I wish the team, led by Professor David Kenny of Teagasc Grange, well in their work over the coming four years”

On the occasion of the launch of the STEP UP project, Professor Frank O’Mara, Director of Teagasc and current President of the EU Animal Task Force, said: “Teagasc is centrally involved in supporting the ongoing development of the economic and environmental viability of the livestock sector, both nationally and internationally. Taking the leadership role in the STEP UP project further demonstrates our commitment to strengthening the sustainability of both Irish and European livestock production systems.”

Professor David Kenny, Head of Animal and Bioscience Research in Teagasc and STEP UP coordinator, said: “In order to address the many challenges facing ELPS, the overall objective of STEP UP is to provide policy makers with a robust evidence base on the impacts and externalities and, in particular, their monetised values, of livestock farming as part of the food system and wider ecosystem.”

For more information on STEP UP, visit the project’s website.

Photo caption - Pictured at Teagasc Ashtown Conference Centre, Dublin yesterday, Wednesday 7th February,  2024, to officially kick-off the project are frim left to right: Declan Troy, Assistant Director of Research, Teagasc; Martin Heydon, T.D., Minister of State with responsibility for Research and Development, Farm Safety, and New Market Development; David Kenny, Head of the Animal and Bioscience Research Department; and Áine Macken-Walsh, Research Officer, Teagasc.