The intensification of animal production systems proceeded rapidly in the latter part of the twentieth century, often aided by government support. However, only short-term benefits of intensification were realized and consumers started to select animal produce from less intensive production systems in the belief that it would be healthier, kinder to the animals and less likely to cause damage to the environment. Recent research has shown that the production of high quality traditional dairy products will provide an income for more people than intensive dairy production, thus helping to serve as a functional basis for rural land use. It is Often argued that extensive production cannot produce enough food for the majority of the population, but such estimates rely on outdated and inadequate levels of output from the traditional systems. Modern organic dairy systems,for example, should produce at least two-thirds of that of intensive systems and should therefore be able to provide for the majority of consumers in the UK. However, it is anticipated that increased global trade in livestock products will further threaten the livelihood of UK producers. Their options are to reduce input costs and develop specialized markets for high quality products ahead of their competitors. For example, the increased potential lifespan of the human population will encourage people to consume products that promote longevity, such as those with minimal contamination by pollutants. In many parts of the world, but particularly in the central continental land masses, livestock production will be challenged by global warming. Traditional production systems are likely to survive better, as they are buffered against variations in weather. It is concluded that livestock production systems have the potential to provide high quality food and employment, especially in marginal areas, and to preserve the land for the benefit of future generations. However, if badly managed, intensive systems may lead to major adverse effects on the environment, damage to human health and a reduction in food supply for those in developing countries.