Feed Chats: Episode 7 with Liesbeth Verheyen

Episode 7 of Feed Chats had Policy Advisor in Sustainability, Environment & Climate at the Belgian Feed Association (BFA), Liesbeth Verheyen, join as a guest. Anton van den Brink, Senior Policy & Communications Manager at FEFAC, moderated the session. This is the first episode of Feed Chats to feature one of FEFAC’s member associations, with the context of the FEFAC Feed Sustainability Charter 2030.

The episode kicked off with the topic of BFA’s own sustainability charter and how it changed the way how BFA operates. Verheyen explained how BFA has now taken a step further by committing to 12 concrete objectives towards sustainability to acknowledge and work with their members. The discussion furthered on one of the ambitions which is the reduction of methane emissions from enteric fermentation in cattle. Belgium has a climate plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, with methane emissions to be reduced by 30% by 2030. Verheyen stated “Reduction of methane is possible by taking farm management measures, feed measures and genetic steps. We have put forward in our sustainability charter that we as the feed sector want to contribute to half of the 30% reduction”. Van Den Brink mentioned “with special feed measures come with a special price” and asked if it was seen as economically feasible. Verheyen responded that it does come with a price but in Belgium, there is an agreement that everyone wants to reach the 30% reduction targets together, and that the Flemish Government will stimulate those farmers who have implemented feed measures financially.

The next topic discussed continued on the BFA charter commitment on the use of co-products. “44% of the raw materials used in 2021 by the Belgian Feed Sector were co-products, and we want to increase this amount to 50% by 2030. It is very important that we use as much products that are not consumable by humans as possible so that we don’t have to compete against the food sector.” Van Den Brink asked would this mean that some members will have to work harder than the others to reach the 50% target? Verheyen agreed that this would be the case, but every year BFA will make a benchmark report for every member that will show the average use of co-products by the sector and the company itself. The aim of the benchmarking process would be that those running behind will get stimulated to adapt their feed compositions.

Anton van den Brink wrapped up the session by inviting everyone to look at the BFA sustainability charter.