Share on:

How Australia’s livestock industry intends to reach carbon neutrality by 2030

Now contributing to 10 per cent of greenhouse gases in the country, the billion dollar industry is finding innovative ways to do better.

As one of the top three exporters of beef in the world, Australia’s beef trade alone generated a total of A$10.8 billion in 2019. Some part of its success can be credited to the spirited campaigns done by Meat and Livestock Australia to promote its beef and lamb products such as the True Aussie Beef & Lamb brand here in Singapore. 

In November, True Aussie Beef & Lamb’s efforts culminate in a month-long dining campaign across eight restaurants named TABLExperience. Establishments such as Butcher’s Block, Esquina, Kotuwa, and Morsels offer their take on cuts of Australian wagyu, grain-fed beef, and lamb done in various ways.

With global temperatures on the rise, the red meat industry in Australia also continues to do its part to hit its carbon neutral goal in 2030. We speak to Andrew Cox, General Manager of International Market of Meat & Livestock Australia, to find out more about the projects currently in place to lessen industry’s impact on the environment.

ESQUINA Grass-fed Australian beef cheek, butternut squash, baby arugula

Grass-fed Australian beef cheek, butternut squash, baby arugula at Esquina

What makes Australia so unique for cattle rearing?

Although the state of Victoria is the largest producer of sheep and Queensland is the largest producer of beef. Australia is a really big country, the climates across the different states vary and so they specialise in different kinds of cattle. For example, the Northern regions of Australia are a bit more tropical, so it’s more suitable for certain types of cattle that are more suited to those conditions. Sheep, on the hand, tend to be found more in the South. In Australia, we enjoy mild winters so the cattle are free to roam and feed all year long.

(Related: How to cook restaurant quality steak at home)

Are there specific breeds of cattle/lamb that are unique to Australia? 

Most cattle breeds originated from other breeds, but the herds in Australia are unique because they are chosen and bred for their favourable traits. For example, the Droughtmaster is a type of breed that is resistant to droughts and the Murray Grey has won many awards for its quality. Australia is also the largest exporter of wagyu beef.

Our scientists are always conducting consumer research to find out what the people like, and this helps identify the factors that produce juicy and tender beef, so we are always improving on the genetics of our animals to produce better eating quality. 

What does becoming carbon neutral by 2030 mean?

While the Australian red meat industry is already climate neutral – we do not contribute to additional global temperature rise – we currently still contribute to 10 per cent of all of Australia’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. We recognise the need to do better for our environment. 

We have already halved our GHG emissions in the past 16 years. Our target of becoming carbon neutral means that by 2030, Australian beef, lamb and goat production, including lot feeding and meat processing, will make no net release of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions into the atmosphere. This can be achieved by focusing on reducing our carbon emissions on farms, feedlots, and processing facilities and increasing carbon storage on farms via trees, legumes. 

What are some of the farming practices that have been adopted that ensure environmental sustainability and humane treatment for animals? 

There are many projects currently underway. To reduce carbon emissions, we are looking at initiatives such as supplements into the animal’s feed that can lower their methane emissions. For example, a type of seaweed called asparagopsis has been shown in trials to reduce cattle methane emissions by more than 80 per cent. 

Growing certain trees and legumes can help increase carbon storage and provide more shade and shelter for the animals. Even the humble dung beetle can improve carbon storage on farms. And with all of these projects, we also need to make sure there is good measurement and analysis, and competency amongst the producers in Australia to adopt new techniques. 

And sustainability isn’t just about the environment, it’s also about good animal welfare. Good animal welfare is a legal requirement in Australia, and cruelty to animals is a criminal offence. In raising, breeding, transporting and slaughtering animals, the well-being and health of animals is a paramount concern so a great deal of research, development, innovation and effort goes into maintaining high standards of animal welfare throughout the supply chain. 

(Related: 3 Latin American gourmet brunches to check out in Singapore)

Could you give us examples of how certain practices have benefitted the local community?

All the changes that farmers are adopting not only reduce carbon emissions or increase carbon storage, but are clearly linked to productivity gains. Furthermore, these practices help to improve the resilience of farms from drought and ensure the future existence of farming families in Australia, and most importantly we know that by reducing our carbon footprint we are also offering consumers peace of mind regarding their food choices.

For more information, visit www.trueaussiebeefandlamb.sg/TABLExperience