SIGIFICANT mileage is being made on the red meat industry’s target to be carbon neutral by 2030, says MLA’s Manager of Supply Chain Sustainability Innovation Doug McNicholl.
How beef producers can shift into gear for a carbon neutral future will be explained at the Northern Beef Research Update Conference (NBRUC), to be held from 19–22 August at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.
It will be just one of an extensive range of sessions and presentations planned. Early bird registration discounts close on Friday 19 July.
Northern producers are invited to submit an application to be considered to receive a free registration, including all social events and a field trip, to attend the event. Visit nbruc2019.com for more details.
Carbon neutral update
Doug will kick off the session with an update on the research, development and adoption activities underpinning the industry’s Carbon Neutral 2030 Initiative, known as the CN30 Initiative.
He said the CN30 Initiative is a message to consumers that the Australian red meat industry is serious about addressing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and adapting to climate change.
It also comes in response to environmental claims made by alternative meat advocates seeking to erode market share in conventional red meat markets, plus developments in other red meat producing nations – such as Brazil and New Zealand – towards carbon neutral red meat production, he said.
“The CN30 initiative provides industry an opportunity to showcase its environmental credentials by reducing GHG emissions and increasing carbon stocks in soil and plants, while lifting productivity and profitability,” Doug said.
“In addition to animal and land productivity benefits, industry is presented the opportunity to diversify revenue streams and pursue new markets through the expanding carbon markets and low carbon or carbon neutral food markets.”
Since 2005, the red meat industry has reduced GHG emissions by 57.6% to 2016. At the same time, the industry’s proportion of national GHG emissions has reduced from 21.4% to 10.4% in 2016.
The red meat industry (reported within the Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing sector data set) and the manufacturing sector are the only major sectors of the economy to reduce emissions since 1990, with red meat making by far the greatest reductions.
“MLA’s role is to work with industry and government to invest in activities to support industry on its path to CN30. Some pathways are well understood and are being adopted by producers; such as improving carbon levels in soils and continued improvement in animal genetics and husbandry practices to improve live weight gain, reduce time to market and reduce GHG emissions per unit of meat production,” Doug said.
“Other pathways require further research and development to verify environmental and economic benefits for northern producers. These include new feed supplements, pastures and legumes that reduce livestock methane emissions and improve weight gain, and verifying the benefits dung beetles deliver in moving carbon in dung into soils.”
MLA is working with producers to provide examples of current carbon balances and to determine which approaches to adopt to close the carbon balance to neutral. Over the next 12 months to 30 June 2020, dozens of case studies will be conducted across the country, which will provide insight to the pathways for the industry to be carbon neutral by 2030.
NBRUC’s keynote presentation this year will be an international perspective for managing calf mortality, delivered by Dr Raoul K. Boughton, an Australian now living in the US.
Since 2014, Raoul has been at the University of Florida Range Cattle Research and Education Centre and his current research includes understanding causes of calf loss, the wildlife-livestock-environmental interface, and impacts of invasive vertebrate species on the environment and livestock production.
MLA’s General Manager Producer Consultation and Adoption Michael Crowley will follow, speaking on putting more ‘value’ into the value chain for northern production systems. This presentation will take a look at how a deeper understanding of the consumer will help the red meat supply chain meet and exceed consumer expectations.
“Customer specifications will continue to evolve and brands will drive value,” Michael said.
“Understanding these specifications through feedback will provide the incentives to make changes in the production system. In order to make decisions, feedback, tools and technologies are required to support making better decisions that drive value for the production sector.”
Source: Meat & Livestock Australia