Research and marketing group Meat and Livestock Australia says the Australian red meat industry could be carbon neutral by 2030.
The Australia red meat sector is important, producing 3% of the world’s beef and 8% of lamb and mutton. In 2017, Australia was the third largest beef exporter in the world. The red meat sector makes an important contribution to the Australian economy: with a value of AUD$16.3 billion, and employing around 200,000 people.
However, red meat and the environment have a complicated and emotional relationship. A study by CSIRO in 2015 found cattle and sheep produced almost 70% of Australian agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Managing director of Meat and Livestock Australia, Richard Norton, said the red meat sector could be carbon neutral by 2030 during his address at the Meat and Livestock Australia annual general meeting in Alice Springs on Wednesday 22 November 2017.
“With industry commitment, the right policy settings and new investment in research, development and adoption, the Australian red meat industry can be carbon neutral by 2030” Mr Norton said.
“And we can be the first red meat exporting nation to do so.” Mr Norton said.
This follows work that we, the CSIRO Global Food and Nutrition Security group, have done in the past 12 months, funded by Meat and Livestock Australia, to identify ways that the industry could become carbon neutral.
We will publish the final report in December 2017.
Mr Norton told ABC Rural that the reduction target was set to prove farming red meat can be environmentally sustainable.
“The livestock industry has reduced its emissions by two-thirds over the last decade. So where the livestock industry was touted as [contributing] 25% of total emissions, that’s down now closer to 10%.” Mr Norton said.
According to Meat and Livestock Australia, potential strategies for reaching the target will include offsetting emissions with carbon farming, genetic selection and a potential vaccine to reduce methane production. Expanding the use of legumes and dung beetles in pastures could also be used to offset emissions.