Challenge and response
European sheep and goat sectors have unique challenges because they are generally in rural, isolated communities. This provides opportunity because they produce products for human consumption from otherwise un-used resources Therefore, they do not compete with other sectors or industries. Yet, the European sheep and goat sector experiences many challenges with farmers becoming discouraged and leaving the sector. Additionally, the sector will have many challenges such as climate change, food security, fluctuating prices, resource use efficiency and shrinking rural populations. iSAGE will try and turn these challenges into opportunities when seeking solutions for the sheep and goat sectors.
These solutions will cover most parts of the sheep and goat sectors. These solutions will potentially benefit everyone in the industry. For example, making production better for the environment, making animals healthier and making products tastier and healthier will potentially benefit the animals, farmers, processors and consumers. Therefore, all of the people will be included in iSAGE research;
The animals – iSAGE will find the best way to breed sheep and goats so they are healthy, productive and produce meat and milk that the consumer wants to eat and drink.
The farm – to make the best use of the improved sheep, iSAGE also find ways to farms that can also be productive and resist the future challenges
The farmer – to be efficient, the farmer also needs to be happy and relaxed. iSAGE will work with farmers to see how together we can improve their quality of life whilst at the same time making their business viable into the future.
The processor – linking the farm and the consumer, the processor can benefit from understanding how milk and meat is produced on the farm and how it can be processed so more gets eaten.
The consumer – knowing what the consumer wants helps the whole sector produce meat and milk that will be in demand.
Policy – European policies affect sheep and goats sectors so we can help them make decisions that will benefit everyone.
The biggest and exciting challenge of iSAGE will be working with the diversity of European countries. The sheep and goats, farms, environments, people, cultures and diets across the EU are unique and rich. Therefore, iSAGE will work to help all sheep and goat sectors whilst keeping the special characteristics that each country offers.
iSAGE will improve the sustainability and innovative capacity of the sheep and goat sector in Europe. We will make the improvements by making the sectors more efficient and profitable farms. We will also make people aware of the much sheep and goats contribute to the environment the benefits that sheep and goat products have over other animal products. This will help create a niche market to compete with other type of animal products.
To achieve these objectives, iSAGE industry partners will collaborate closely with the research teams to develop assess how sustainable the sheep and goat sectors are. We will use the outcomes of these assessments to identify potential future problems or opportunities for sheep and goat production in Europe.
Additionally, assessing the attitudes of the consumer and society to the EU sheep and goat sector will help us increase society acceptance and the role of sheep and goat products (meat and milk) in future diets.
The project began activities on 1 March 2016 and will continue for 48 months.