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Danish agriculture commits to responsible and deforestation-free soy

Danish agriculture tightens up its requirements for the production of responsible soy: By 2025, soy purchased for feed by Danish agriculture must be responsibly produced, verified and deforestation-free. At the same time, agriculture highlights the need for European solutions.

Danish farmers are known around the world as some of the most skilled and as being at the forefront of sustainability, and now a unified Danish agricultural industry is committing to being even more actively involved in supporting the production of sustainable soy.

In concrete terms, Danish agriculture sets joint, binding targets for the purchase of soy and thus extends the industry’s existing soy policy. This will ensure that, by 2025, all soy purchased for animal feed in Danish agriculture is third-party verified and responsibly and sustainably grown, e.g. as regards deforestation. Soy is grown around the world under very different conditions.

“Danish agriculture is now taking a unified, firm step towards sustainable production of soy,” says Flemming Nør-Pedersen, Executive Director of the Danish Agriculture & Food Council. 

“We want to create real, lasting change in soy-producing countries. We do this by demanding deforestation-free cultivation and verification, which is not only appropriately ambitious but also provides the most sustainable solution in the long run,” says Flemming Nør-Pedersen. 

Danish agriculture buys 0.5 per cent of the world’s soy 

Being rich in protein, soy is an essential ingredient in animal feed. The very same nutritional properties also make soy an important ingredient in a number of foods, particularly plant-based products.

Today, Danish agriculture buys about 0.5 per cent of the world’s total soy production, equivalent to approximately 1.5 million tonnes. 

“In Denmark, we buy less than one per cent of the world’s soy production. For that reason, our efforts cannot stand alone – both European and international solutions and agreements are needed.  We therefore encourage the government to work towards demands for responsible and deforestation-free imports at EU and international level. We also encourage the government to engage with the producer countries and cooperate with them on responsible soy production,” says Flemming Nør-Pedersen.

The Danish Agriculture & Food Council therefore also actively supports common European solutions. This is done through the European animal feed industry FEFAC, where the Danish agricultural industry actively contributes to further development of the common European responsibility requirements in FEFAC, including regarding deforestation. Incidentally, DAKOFO (Danish Grain & Feed Trade Organisation) has just been awarded the presidency of FEFAC.

More initiatives will contribute to increased sustainability

Parallel to the new goals of 100 per cent verified, responsibly produced soy, the agricultural and food industry is also focused on developing new protein sources that can be grown in Danish soil with a positive environmental effect. This could, for example, be protein extracted from grass or seaweed. 

Facts about the agreement

  • The goal is that by 2025, 100 per cent of the soy purchased for animal feed is responsibly produced. This must be ensured through third-party verification and in accordance with FEFAC guidelines.

  • Subsidiary goals have been set for the years leading up to 2025. This means that the minimum quota for verified responsible soy will be increased in steps (2021: 20%, 2022: 40%, 2023: 60%, 2024: 80%, 2025: 100%). 

  • The target is 100 per cent physically segregated soy, but the supply of segregated soy is very low. Therefore, imports will be calculated based on mass balance, where each link from producer to farmer will be able to document the percentage of responsible soy purchased, and that they do not sell larger quantities of responsible soy than have been purchased. 

  • Danish agriculture actively supports the work of the European Feed Manufacturers Federation, FEFAC, as well as further development of FEFAC’s criteria regarding responsibly produced soy, e.g. relating to deforestation. Through the work in FEFAC, Danish agriculture impacts the entire European agricultural industry’s procurement of responsible soy production.

  • The Danish Agriculture & Food Council encourages the government to work towards demands for responsible and deforestation-free imports at EU level and to engage with producer countries on responsible soy production.

  • Danish agriculture simultaneously works to reduce the need for soy imports by developing new Danish-produced proteins that could eventually partially replace soy protein in feed.