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The International Congress on Extensive Livestock Farming and Climate Change presents a comprehensive picture of the current situation of extensive livestock farming in southern Europe, in a context of water scarcity, challenges in terms of calculating emissions, animal health and the efficiency of specific policy measures.

More than 40 papers by livestock farmers, researchers, professionals from the sector and teachers have made up the body of a congress that aims to establish the lines of action to implement extensive livestock farming in the fight against climate change.
The International Congress on Extensive Livestock Farming and Climate Change was held on 18, 19 and 20 October in Cordoba, as a complete showcase for all issues concerning the extensive livestock farming sector.

Starting with a current contextualisation of the sector and its problems, with presentations by renowned scientists such as María E. Fernández Giménez from the University of Colorado, or committed livestock farmers whose day-to-day work is carried out in the countryside, such as Monte Orodea, the congress hosted more than 40 presentations on the major issues of concern to the countryside.

We need to properly consider the carbon sequestration capacity of livestock systems, as extensive farming is not the same thing,” said Mireia Llorente of the Entretantos Foundation, introducing the first thematic block: Pastures and Carbon Footprint. Throughout the six presentations that made up this block, GHG emissions, the Spanish System of Inventory and Projections of Pollutant Emissions to the Atmosphere, the differences between methane emissions of ruminants depending on the grazing system or the importance of coprophagous insects for the balance of livestock systems were discussed. Gerardo Moreno, from the University of Extremadura, answered the following question: Does carbon sequestration really offset the emissions generated by livestock farming? Rubén Serrano, researcher in ecology and anthropology of livestock systems, closed the thematic block with an interesting reflection: “Extensive livestock farming is not only a human activity but is integrated into the ecological roles intrinsic to the existence of these landscapes“, which gave rise to the subsequent debate, in which questions were asked about the benefits of holistic management and devices to inhibit carbon emissions, which were raised as a measure that is difficult to apply to the extensive livestock sector.

Patricia Mora, CEO of Innogestiona Ambiental, started the second thematic block: Water management. WaterAdapt and PondAdapt are two of the projects developed by Innogestiona within the framework of the LiveAdapt Project, as solutions to one of the major problems of the lands of southern Europe: water scarcity. An issue that not only has a direct impact on biodiversity, animal welfare and society, but also causes emotional stress to livestock farmers who face this situation for a large part of the year. In this sense, Rafael Muñoz Rubio lamented the difficulty of transmitting this urgent concept of necessity to citizens who live “acclimatised”.

Francisco Javier Viseas then presented the Hydrological Plan for the Guadiana Basin 2022-2027, and assured that “it includes future water reserve allocations exclusively for non-intensive exploitations”. In addition, topics such as water management systems, irrigated meadows, the impact of climate change on water, and the need to consider extensive livestock farming as a good of social interest were also discussed. The latter, developed by Carmen Bendala in a comprehensive presentation on the ideas, needs, comparative grievances and proposals of extensive livestock farmers, on behalf of Ganaderas en Red, on the use and management of water.

To close the day on Wednesday 19, the president of FEDEHESA María Pía Sánchez introduced the problem of policies that address extensive farming regimes. With regard to the CAP, she stressed that “we need a CAP that addresses a different development model that allows the Spain that has been emptied to become the Spain that is lived”. This inaugurated the Governance, Policies and CAP block, which was developed by Jabier Ruiz from WWF: with a presentation on the current situation of European policies on extensive livestock farming; Pedro M. Herrera, developing key ideas such as multifunctionality as an integrating strategy for the adaptation of the territory or the need to integrate adaptation, mitigation and a global vision when developing an effective strategy; Teresa Pinto calling for the need to innovate in public policies from the perspective of livestock farmers or Tamara Rodríguez with an exhaustive and critical review of the Common Agricultural Policy.

On Thursday, the congress kicked off with a round table on Institutional Policies to complete the previous day’s block. After listening to the problems of the current production model in environmental terms, attendees were able to learn about the Strategic Action Plan for the Adaptation of Extensive Livestock Farming to Climate Change. One of the main results of the Life LiveAdapt project, for the implementation of which various workshops have been held involving more than 120 people and a group of 20 experts. The result: a document that is structured in four strategic lines that include 13 specific action measures: You can download it here:

The round table continued with the interventions of Guillermo Fernández, Paulo Canaveira, Irene de Miguel and Lorena Rodríguez, which served to critically develop the objectives of the CAP, to learn about the policies on extensive livestock production and climate change in Portugal, and to understand the role of the administrations, as well as the limitations that they entail.

The best debate took place after the fourth block of the congress dedicated to Digitalisation and Business Models. Here we also had the opportunity to get to know another product generated by the LiveAdapt project: the LiveSmart application for the management of livestock resources presented by María Aparicio from Pigchamp, and we listened to Juanma Intxaurrandieta from INTIA differentiate the different production models and quality designations; to Álvaro Barrera, president of Ecovalia, recognise the problems we have when it comes to promoting organic consumption; Fernando María Vicente to develop Blockchain technology as a strategy to generate confidence in the extensive option for the consumer; and the doctor and environmental activist Adrián Almazán to defend degrowth and de-digitisation as ways of confronting the global eco-social crisis. In this respect, Almazán pointed out that “food production, far from being a source of energy for our society, has become a resource sink, a destructive activity”, which translates into the “incompatibility of the current industrial agri-food system with sustainable growth”.

The different positions generated a very interesting debate that was completed with questions on the Blockchain, the profitability of livestock systems, the problem of generational change and the importance of associationism.

The thematic block that closed the presentations of the congress dealt with Animal Health and Welfare. Introduced by Rafael Zafra and his presentation on parasitosis and the results of the project on this issue, it was followed by the presentation on the management of animal welfare and health in extensive farms by the professor and researcher João Simões, and the voice of the professional experience of Óscar García, a veterinarian with more than 40 years of experience. María del Carmen García would give the vision of the administration (Junta de Andalucía) on the subject, introducing the concept of “One Health”.

Oliver Maurin and Telmo Nunes were in charge of closing the cycle of presentations with a conference on the importance of native breeds for the local ecosystem and another on the relationship between the different animal diseases and their relationship with the effects of climate change, respectively.

Vicente Rodríguez Estévez, Professor of Animal Production at the University of Cordoba and director of the Ecovalia-Clemente Mata Chair of Ecological Livestock Farming, as coordinator of the Life LiveAdapt project, was responsible for closing the programme of thematic round tables, reflecting on the responsibility we have to promote and teach a culture of extensive livestock farming. In this sense, he pointed out the importance of defining and having a Designation of Extensive Livestock Farming, its values and benefits.

After lunch, the congress officially ended with a visit to the Dehesa de Campo Alto pilot farm located near the town, where attendees were able to see the results of the work that the Life LiveAdapt Project has been carrying out for the last four years to find real solutions that guarantee the adaptation of extensive livestock farming to the effects of climate change.

The LIFE LiveAdapt project has been co-funded by the European Union through the LIFE LIFE17 programme CCA/ES/000035. The project consortium is led by the University of Cordoba, which coordinates the work of its partners: Asociación para la Defensa del Patrimonio de Mértola – ADPM, la Federación Española de la Dehesa – FEDEHESA, Fundación Entretantos, PigChamp pro Europa, Quercus, Institut de L’Elevage (IDELE -Instituto Francés de la Ganadería), Asociación Nacional de Conservación de la Naturaleza de Portugal – QUERCUS e Innogestiona Ambiental.


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