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JBS completes one of the world’s largest grassfed cattle carbon emissions surveys 

Beef Central, 29/05/2024

Great Southern Little Joe Ausmeat marbling score 4 and up cube roll. Click on image for a larger view

JBS Australia has completed one of the world’s largest grassfed cattle carbon emission surveys, providing greater transparency around the company’s Great Southern farm-assured beef program.

Carbon footprints were independently collected from 176 cattle producers aligned with the company’s Great Southern Grassfed beef program in New South Wales, Tasmania, Victoria and South Australia.

The carbon footprint emissions project is verified to ISO Standards.

The initiative has established a carbon emission baseline of 11.6kg CO2e/kg liveweight for the suppliers involved  – 12 percent below the national Australian average of 13.1kg CO2e/kg liveweight.

JBS Farm Assurance partnered with agri-environmental research and consultancy firm IntegrityAg to complete the suppliers’ beef cattle carbon emissions baseline.

Created under the JBS Farm Assurance seven pillars of sustainability, the partnership would increase transparency throughout the beef value chain, from cattle producers to consumers, the company said.

Great Southern is Australia’s and one of the world’s largest farm-assured premium grassfed beef and lamb supply chains.

At this stage, there are no plans to raise brand claims around carbon emissions, the company told Beef Central, but it may come later.

Establishing baselines

The survey was based on a multi-state and varied sample of 176 carbon footprints from farms implementing regenerative agricultural practices. The baselines were established with critical emission contributors including fuel, water, electricity, transport, vegetation mapping, and production figures measured and verified by IntegrityAg.

The baseline was also geographically diverse, including cattle from the Hunter Valley, New South Wales, South East South Australia, Gippsland, Victoria, King Island and the mainland of Tasmania.

Future carbon management initiatives

JBS Southern chief operating officer Sam McConnell said the data would help inform future carbon management initiatives at the producer and processor level

“We now have compelling farm-level, data-driven insights into our cattle supply chain’s Scope 3 Greenhouse Gas emissions,” Mr McConnell said.

Sam McConnell

“This project is the first step to be able to understand what is happening on-farm and how herd and grazing management can benefit both the environment and livestock supplier, and to have a carbon footprint that meets national and global estimation guidelines is a standard of JBS Farm Assurance.

Consumers were seeking greater supply chain transparency and understanding of both where their food comes from and how it is produced, Mr McConnell said.

“This project can help inform consumers about the value of on-farm practices to protect and enhance natural resources, while also supporting improved farm productivity. Importantly, this data shows JBS Farm Assurance producer partners are excellent farm managers with their current carbon management practices, as evident in their estimated lower-than-average carbon footprint.”

JBS started planning the project in 2020 and prioritised ensuring that best practice was implemented to accurately measure data, and to align to the strict standards of the JBS Farm Assurance program and its seven pillars of sustainability, he said.

“Great Southern is known for delivering red meat experiences beyond expectations, and that is made possible through the commitment of our producers for consumers who are passionate about premium products sourced from sustainable origins.”

Sustainability leaders

Great Southern producers Rob and Joan Liley have been farming in Gippsland for 65 years and have been leaders within the JBS Farm Assurance group in the space of sustainability, biodiversity and regenerative farming practices benefiting on-farm production.

“Owning and managing land is a privilege, not a right. In order to leave our properties in better shape than we found them to the next generation, it is our responsibility to take care of them,” Rob Liley, said.

“My experience as a farmer has taught me that simple things can make a substantial difference. We have found that by planting shelter belts along the fence line of every paddock not only do livestock have protection from the weather, and native animals a place to be, but we increase our productivity by 15pc.

“And by switching to troughs instead of dams, we increase our productivity by a further 15pc. That’s 30% right there, a good reason to be interested in regenerative farming practices if you ask me,” he said.

Image source: APL

Dr Stephen Wiedermann

Dr Stephen Wiedemann from IntegrityAg said reliable and repeatable measurement was key to having a benchmark that can be trusted, and to reporting improvement over time.

“This has been a major focus for IntegrityAg in our work to support the JBS Farm Assurance program,” he said.

The methodology of the carbon baseline assessment was compliant with the national published benchmark (Australian Beef Sustainability Framework), ISO 14067 (2018) and the UN FAO LEAP guidelines for beef carbon footprints.

“Baselines that meet these rigorous standards are imperative to understand the impact and true opportunity to draw down carbon emissions on-farm,” Dr Wiedemann said.

“All data in this program was independently collected and checked which is key to results that can be trusted and relied on. The study has been a unique insight into a large-scale closed beef supply chain that is tied to actual brands, showing impacts from grassfed beef lower than the Australian average, and other global studies.”

IntegrityAg continues to work collaboratively with JBS Farm Assurance, and has now begun the carbon baseline assessment for JBS’s parallel Great Southern lamb program.

Since 2013, the JBS Farm Assurance program has third-party audited on-farm production practices such as grassfed, free-range, and no added antibiotics, hormones or GMOs. These claims underpin a suite of grassfed brands, including Great Southern, Pinnacle Beef (marbling score 2+, Little Joe (scores 4 and higher), King Island Beef and Hereford Boss.

Calculating an accurate carbon emissions baseline reflective of these practices was the next critical step in continuing to support sustainable sourcing and regenerative on-farm practices, the company said.

Acceptance into the JBS Farm Assurance program is by invitation only, and suppliers must meet the standards outlined in the JBS Farm Assurance manual that is audited on-farm by third-party, Bureau Veritas (BVAQ).

Learnings from the Southern division’s JBS Farm Assurance program will be shared across the JBS Australia business and industry to accelerate sustainability outcomes across the red meat industry.

 

 

 

 

 

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