BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from agriculture are expected to decline slightly by 2025 helped by better management of manure and a drop in beef production, which accounts for half of total EU farm emissions, the European Commission said on Wednesday.
Agriculture is estimated to be a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions linked to rising global temperatures, notably due to cattle manure whose decomposition produces methane and nitrous oxide emissions.
In a presentation at the EU Agricultural Outlook Conference, the Commission pegged GHG emissions from agriculture to fall 1.6 percent between 2013 and 2025. Cattle would remain the largest contributor, amounting to half of the emissions.
However, the Commission expected beef cattle emissions to fall by 6 percent in the 10 years to 2025, citing a change in manure management technology and a drop in the number of animals as the main reasons.
Manure management accounts for about one sixth of greenhouse emissions from agriculture in the EU, data from the EU's statistical office Eurostat showed.
Arable land and pasture also largely contribute to GHG emissions with a total share in agriculture of 32 percent, due mainly to crop residues and mineral fertilizers, the Commission noted in its outlook.
Agriculture as a whole represented about 10 percent of the EU's total GHG emissions in 2012, according to Eurostat.
Beef and veal production in the EU was projected to fall nearly 3.8 percent in the decade ahead, curbing growth in overall EU meat output to less than 1 million tonnes over the period, it said.
This partly reflected meat consumption in the EU which was expected to resume a downward trend to reach 66.7 kg per capita by 2025, close to the levels of 2008 when the economic crisis hit the global economy, the Commission also said.
This was in contrast to a forecast 15 percent rise in global meat demand over 2015-2025, representing almost 50 million tonnes in extra consumption that was equal to annual EU meat production, it said.
Poultry, meanwhile, would gain market share from beef and other meat products in the EU. Poultry exports from the bloc were also forecast to rise by more than 15 percent over the decade to 1.6 million tonnes by 2025, helped by a rise in output.
(Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide, editing by Gus Trompiz and Susan Thomas)