Thursday, April 25, 2024

NZ Roundtable to consider global beef goals

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The Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB) has adopted goals that include a reduction in the net global warming impact of beef by 30% by 2030. Two further goals announced in late June under the headings of land use and animal welfare are less specific.
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They are to ensure the beef value chain is a net positive contributor to nature and to provide cattle with an environment in which they can thrive, through the increased adoption of best practices.

The worldwide organisation says its members will lead and implement progress towards the goals.

The newly formed New Zealand Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (NZRSB) comprises farmers, processors, customers, industry and research organisations; the current chair is Whangara Farms general manager Richard Scholefield.

The GRSB says it acknowledged that beef industries in member countries had a key role in mitigating climate change.

The first goal is to reduce by 30% the net global warming impact of each unit of beef by 2030, on a pathway to climate neutrality.

“GRSB members will implement and incentivise climate-smart beef production, processing and trade, while safeguarding and building upon the carbon stores in soil and landscapes,” GRSB executive director Ruaraidh Petre said.

Along with greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction, the grasslands on which cattle are farmed have potential to sequester 54-216 million tonnes of carbon annually by 2030.

Petre says Roundtable members were committing to investing in research and development of climate-smart practices, tools and knowledge.

Investment had already been made in analysis of carbon sequestration and now members would look at how to manage and more effectively measure that process.

Under the second goal, GRSB members would pursue practices to restore grazing lands, conserve forests, oppose illegal deforestation and increase native vegetation and biodiversity.

For the third goal, concerning animal welfare, GRSB members will encourage adoption of best practices in disease prevention, treatment measures, cattle handling and appropriate genetics.

Scholefield says an earlier publicised GRSB goal was to reduce premature cattle deaths below 10% and that NZ was already well below that level.

The NZRSB board would meet soon to discuss the new international goals and how they could apply to NZ.

“For instance, deforestation is not an issue here, rather afforestation and its effects on our beef industry,” Scholefield said.

“We have more to do on greenhouse gases and biodiversity and to consider how the GRSB 30% goal lines up with requirements from the Government.”

Elected chair earlier this year, Scholefield is very enthusiastic about the collaborative approach among the Roundtable stakeholders and encourages every beef farmer to read about its aims and objectives and get involved.

“We have representatives from all along the supply chain and they leave their agendas at the door,” he said.

He says next a beef sustainability and verification proof of concept trial involving Whangara and three other farms with 500 cattle in total will be expanded to cover 10,000 cattle.

The aim is to establish a sustainability framework and certification along the supply chain.

Land and Environment Plans were and are still central to Whangara’s policy development and decision-making, having evolved during eight years association with McDonald’s restaurants and its flagship farms programme.

“We haven’t finished but we now look back and see how far we have come and what positive changes have been made,” he said.

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