Industrial livestock production in developing countries often causes severe environmental damages, especially when meat and dairy factories are crowded together around cities or close to water resources, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has warned. In a report released on Thursday, the Rome-based agency urged governments to create incentives for more environmentally friendly dairy and meat production practices. Meat and dairy products have become more widely available and affordable in many developing countries. Between 1980 and 2004, meat production in developing countries tripled from around 50 million to 150 million tonnes. Although consumers in developed countries still eat three to four times as much meat per person, developing countries now produce and consume well over half of the world’s meat, FAO said. Meat production in developing countries is expected to increase by about 110 million tonnes by 2030. In many developing countries large industrial livestock operations with thousands of animals have displaced production on small farms that raise both animals and crops and recycle nutrients as fodder and fertilizer. New production has shifted increasingly from cattle that graze on grass in rural areas to industrial pig and poultry production on the outskirts of major cities, according to the reportIn industrial production systems, large quantities of animal wastes accumulate far from croplands where they could be safely recycled. Dense concentrations of industrial livestock production create vast quantities of manure. This can cause nitrates and pathogens to leach into groundwater, which often threatens drinking water supplies. Another risk is the destruction of fragile ecosystems, such as wetlands, mangrove swamps and coral reefs. Government policies such as zoning regulations and taxes can discourage large concentrations of intensive production close to cities, the report said. Taxes, certification programmes and other policy instruments can support best practices in livestock production. Unfortunately, in many countries outdated and misguided policies actively promote environmentally unsustainable livestock production, FAO said. Many developing countries provide subsidies for chemical fertilizers, energy and credit, but these tend to be of greater benefit to large operations. The agency points out that eliminating subsidies, adjusting taxes and providing incentives for investing in technology to reduce pollution could reduce the environmental damage caused by industrial livestock production.