Red meat processing giant ABP is setting its UK suppliers the challenge of reducing their greenhouse gas emissions from beef and lamb production by as much as 25% by 2030.
In its ambitious £1.5m Prism 2030 programme of research, the processor will work with 350 farms and with Harper Adams University to establish how producers can achieve the biggest wins to reduce emissions.
This might include goals on heifer age at first calving and age of animal at slaughter, animal health improvements and using additives to reduce methane emissions.
The company, which unveiled the initiative on Tuesday (22 November), has commissioned farm business consultants Andersons to record the emissions data on the 350 participating farmers and to use farm carbon calculator Agricalc to work out the “sweet spot” of where emissions can be reduced and performance improved.
Professor Jude Capper and her team at Harper Adams University will analyse this data to come up with a “suite of tools” that all red meat producers can use to achieve reductions, with that advice widely shared through events, discussion groups, webinars and leaflets.
“Farmers know that they must do something about emissions but don’t know how,” said Prof Capper, who is ABP chairwoman in Sustainable Beef Production at the university.
One of the 350 farmer-suppliers involved is Farmers Weekly 2020 Grassland Manager of the Year, Sam Chesney, who farms beef and sheep in County Down.
While UK red meat producers “were second to none”, Prism 2030 would provide them with the data to back that up, he believed.
“It will provide a better and clearer picture for the consumer,” said Mr Chesney.
No financial incentives
There are no plans for financial incentives for farmer-suppliers whose emissions fall below a certain threshold because, the company points out, businesses that score well on emissions are often the best performing and that should be the incentive.
“Nearly always, environmental and economic factors travel hand in hand,” says Dean Holroyd, ABP’s group technical and sustainability director.
He said the company’s emissions reduction target aligns with that of the Irish government, which wants Ireland’s agriculture industry to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2030.
“Twenty-five per cent is ambitious but I would align with that – it is challenging but is not a ‘la-la land’ target,” said Mr Holroyd.
As a major AHDB levypayer, ABP also wants “significant funding’’ from the levy to be committed to defending the reputation of red meat.
Farmers can apply directly to ABP to be among the 350 trial farms.