New European Reference Centre for Endangered Animal Breeds established

October 10, 2022

From 1 January 2023, experts of Wageningen University & Research (WUR) will work together with IDELE (France) and BLE (Germany) to advise the European Commission, national governments and breed organisations on sustainable breeding programmes for endangered farm animal breeds, as well as the implementation of EU breeding regulations.

The Standing Zootechnical Committee of EU DG SANTE approved the European Commission's proposal to establish an EU Reference Centre for Endangered Animal Breeds (EURC-EAB) on October 3rd, 2022. In this new EU Reference Centre, WUR will be working alongside IDELE (Institut de l’Élevage, France) and BLE (Federal Office for Agriculture and Food, Germany). Sipke-Joost Hiemstra (Wageningen Livestock Research/Centre for Genetic Resources, the Netherlands) has been appointed Director.

The EURC-EAB will collaborate closely with the European Regional Focal Point for Animal Genetic Resources (ERFP). ERFP is the European network of National Coordinators, who are responsible for the coordination of the conservation and sustainable use of animal genetic resources at national level.

What will be the task of the EURC-EAB?

EURC-EAB will provide scientific and technical advice to the European Commission aimed at establishing and harmonising methods for the conservation of endangered breeds, as well as the preservation of genetic diversity within these breeds. This includes the breeding of cattle, pigs, sheep, goats and horses. The EURC-EAB will also support governments and breed organisations in the implementation and further development of European breeding regulations (EU 2016/1012).

Hiemstra: "Effective breeding programmes are very important for maintaining the variety of rare farm animal breeds in Europe. This is how we maintain genetic diversity within the breeds and thus ensure that these breeds remain usable in the future."

Contact point and information hub

National Competent Authorities (the responsible government organisations at the national level), breeding organisations and other stakeholders can contact the EURC-EAB with questions or bottlenecks regarding the implementation of the EU animal breeding legislation (EU 2016/1012) for endangered breeds. Emerging questions from the European Commission and EU Member States in the Standing Zootechnical Committee related to genetic resources will also be taken up by the EURC-EAB.

Furthermore, the EURC-EAB aims to widely share guidelines to assess the risk status of breeds, as well as best practices for the conservation and sustainable use of endangered farm animal breeds. The EURC-EAB will set up specific communication tools for its target audience.