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IGFA members are committed to sourcing ingredients that originate from processes that are environmentally and socially correct and economically viable. We are working with our suppliers and other European Feed Associations on initiatives to ensure that sustainably sourced feed ingredients become mainstream. As a first and important step, to mitigate the environmental impact of livestock products, the feed industry produces nutritionally balanced feed for animals to meet their requirements and reduce emissions to the environment.


Sustainability Action Plan
In June 2021 IGFA members agreed and published a Sustainability Action Plan that will focus our work on sustainability issues over the coming 12 months. The plan outlines commitments on key environmental themes for our industry including crude protein, methane reducing additives, sustainable soy, environmental footprinting and expanding our expertise. This plan will build on the many activities currently being undertaken by the Irish Feed Industry to enhance its environmental performance and help us down the path to continuous improvement. It is an important 12 months ahead as the government plans to start discussing with industry how to deliver Ag Climatise priorities and achieve climate change targets. Our action plan will help us align and work collaboratively to achieve common goals. Read the full IGFA Sustainability Action Plan.

IGFA Sustainable Soy Survey
Soybean meal (SBM) is an important protein source for animal diets and a key ingredient for the Irish feed market. Supplies of soy to Ireland mainly comes from Argentina, Paraguay, Canada and the US. The sustainability of soy production is at the forefront of discussions amongst feed industry stakeholders across Europe. IGFA is therefore working to understand more about the soy used in Irish feed and the views and experiences of our members on this issue. We are currently (July 2021) conducting a survey to find out whether the needs of the market and Irish customers are changing in relation to certified sustainable soybean meal (SBM). This survey is one of the commitments agreed under the IGFA Sustainability Action Plan and will give us a clearer picture of what is happening on the ground on this issue.

IGFA and DAFM Crude Protein Survey
Crude protein intakes in excess of animal requirements for optimal health and production can be associated with increased greenhouse gas and ammonia emissions. To ensure we have a clear picture on the real contribution that animal feed makes to these emissions, accurate data on crude protein levels in feed rations is necessary. IGFA therefore worked with government to gather information in Spring 2020 on crude protein levels in feed rations in 2019, 2017 and 2015.  Animal feed companies around the country participated in a survey and provided reliable data on weighted average protein levels in feed and trends in levels since 2015. The response to the survey represented 80% of overall national feed production and therefore gave an accurate picture of current protein levels in livestock rations.  The results showed that average crude protein content of dairy, beef, pig and poultry feed for 2019 was 16.3%, 14.9%, 16.7% and 18.1% respectively. It concludes that overall protein levels have been following a positive environmental downward trend since 2015. The biggest reduction was in pig feed with an overall reduction of 3.5% over this period. The IGFA press release here.

EU Farm to Fork Strategy
The European Commission published the Farm to Fork Strategy (F2F) on 20 May 2020. This strategy aims to build more sustainable food systems in Europe that (1) have a neutral or positive environmental impact (2) help to mitigate climate change and adapt to its impacts (3) reverse the loss of biodiversity (4) ensure food security, nutrition and public health, making sure that everyone has access to sufficient, safe, nutritious, sustainable food (5) preserve affordability of food while generating fairer economic returns, fostering competitiveness of the EU supply sector and promoting fair trade.
The strategy outlines EU plans for the future on a huge range of food-related policies from feed additives to pesticide use to the future CAP. An IGFA summary of the strategy highlighting the points of interest for our members is available here. Irish ‘Ag Climatise’ – National Climate & Air Roadmap for the Agriculture Sector
A National Climate & Air Roadmap for the Agriculture Sector entitled  ‘Ag Climatise’ was launched by government in December 2020. The roadmap sets out a vision for a ‘climate neutral agriculture sector by 2050’ and includes 29 specific actions aimed at reducing the environmental footprint of Irish Agriculture. IGFA has prepared a document here which summaries the main points of interest for the Irish animal feed industry.


Sustainable Soy

As a member of the European Feed Manufacturers’ Association FEFAC, IGFA has been involved in the discussions and debate on sustainable soy for a number of years. Along with our European colleagues we have always advocated the need for all feed ingredients to be produced in a safe and responsible way. This is why FEFAC published the first version of the European feed industry Soy Sourcing Guidelines in August 2015. The guidelines are based on 6 themes - Legal compliance, responsible working conditions, environmental responsibility, good agricultural practices, respect for legal land use and protection of community relations. Under each of these themes there is a range of essential and desired criteria - essentially practices that are associated with responsible soy production. Private companies can then look at their own soy certification standards and ‘benchmark’ their schemes against these criteria. If they pass the benchmarking process, they will be highlighted on The International Trade Centre (ITC) Sustainability Map. This helps ensure market transparency on responsible soy sourcing and clarity on which private standards are in line with the FEFAC Soy Sourcing Guidelines.  The FEFAC-Soy-Sourcing-Guidelines-2021.pdf were updated in February 2021 and now include 54 essential (obligatory) criteria and 19 desired (optional) criteria. Each scheme must meet at least 8 out of 19 desired criteria to pass the benchmarking exercise. In addition, a to updating the guidelines, FEFAC also developed a transparency tool to facilitate the market transparency on ‘conversion free’ soy i.e., sourcing that does not cause or contribute to the conversion of natural ecosystems.  The schemes/programmes that have applied and passed the ITC Benchmarking process against the FEFAC Soy Sourcing Guidelines 2021, including the desired criterion on conversion-free soy are Cargill Triple S Soya Products, Cefetra Certified Responsible Soya Standard, RTRS, Donau Soja, Europe Soya, ProTerra Foundation and Sustainable Farming Assurance Programme.

Nitrates Derogation 2020
A maximum crude protein content of 15% is permissible in concentrate feedstuff fed to grazing livestock on the holding between 1 April and 15 September 2021 (Article 15.6). Records of crude protein content of concentrate feedstuff shall be kept in accordance with Article 23(1) (j)..  
Q. Is this requirement only for dairy cows on the holding?
A. No, this measure is focussed on dairy cows and cattle over two years and does not apply to livestock under two years.
Q. What will be the level of Crude Protein (CP) allowed in concentrate feeds for grazing livestock at grass?
A: Bovine livestock greater than two years old, including dairy cows, fed on a 100% grass forage diet during the main grazing season will be required to comply with a maximum of 15% CP (on a fresh weight basis) between 1st April and 15th September in 2021.
Note: If higher levels of crude protein are required, this needs to be justified and certified by the appropriate advisor.
Q. Who qualifies as an appropriate advisor for the purpose of this certification? A. An appropriate advisor is the compounder, supplier of feed, nutritionist or agricultural advisor
DAFM  have updated their  Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) see link

Environmental Footprinting
The Commission has embarked on an ambitious three-year project to develop standard methods to measure and communicate a product’s environmental foot-print PEF Pilot: These pilots are aimed at establishing methods to measure environmental performance throughout the lifecycle process. The aim is to provide principles for communicating environmental performance, such as transparency, reliability, completeness, comparability and clarity for the consumer. The feed industry is involved with the second wave of these pilots. The final outcome will be guidelines on how (feed) businesses may in the future label products so the consumer can make an informed choice.  Information on the feed pilot and stakeholder involvement is available here.

EU Protein Deficit

The feed industry engages with academics, nutritionists and plant breeders to help improve the EU protein balance sheet. Research is ongoing with plant breeders to develop EU protein crops that provide farmers with varieties that have improved yield and disease resistance characteristics. A vital part of our nutritional advice is aimed at best utilisation of protein diets. The correct level of protein to the correct animal to meet the projected output and reduce waste.  At an EU level the industry is engaged with the EU initiative EIP- AGRI where research and innovation are used to develop EU solutions. V