A new report by ProVeg International has explored the opportunities and challenges faced by farmers transitioning to alt-protein production.
The report interviewed 20 groups representing 300,000 farmers, asking what prevents them from making the shift. Responses show that many are concerned about climate change and open-minded to changing what they produce.
“Farmers are acutely aware that net-zero and averting climate change is essential”
However, farmers need to be reassured that they will not lose income if they make the transition. According to one German representative, the decision would be simple if demand and revenue for alt-proteins exceeded that for animal products.
Solving challenges through alt-protein
The report explores how transitioning to animal agriculture could relieve a number of pressures faced by the industry, including the impact of climate change on yields, reduced demand for animal products, and economic challenges due to intensification.
A number of alternative protein solutions are discussed, including:
- Transitioning from grazing dairy cattle to growing alternative protein crops.
- Producing plant-based milks using crops grown on-site.
- Fermentation-derived protein.
- Cultivated meat.
- Vertical farming
- Algae aquaculture.
- Regenerative farming.
- Carbon credits for alternative land uses.
Farmers transitioning to alt-protein
Worldwide, some farmers are already making the shift away from animal agriculture. In 2020, Scandinavian oat yogurt brand Hälsa launched a program in the US to help dairy farmers transition to organic oat production. Meanwhile, European organisation Refarm’d is helping animal farmers switch to producing milk alternatives and other plant-based products.
“Farmers are acutely aware that net-zero and averting climate change is essential,” said a British farming representative quoted in the ProVeg report. “Farmers would love to reduce livestock numbers and their climate footprint, but we have to be financially viable to do our environmental work. If you’re talking about replacing lost animal income with something else, then money talks.”