New target to reduce emissions from meat by 11%

By Hayley Brown

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Meat, Greenhouse gas

A new report outlines a strategy to reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions from beef and sheep production by at least 11% by 2020.Launched today, The...

A new report outlines a strategy to reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions from beef and sheep production by at least 11% by 2020.

Launched today, The English beef and sheep production roadmap: phase one​ has been produced by the English Beef and Lamb Executive (EBLEX), working closely with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), National Beef Association, National Sheep Association, British Meat Processors Association (BMPA), the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers and the British Retail Consortium.

The report provides a periodic review of the entire UK beef and sheep meat supply chain, aiming to make it progressively more sustainable in line with nationally and internationally agreed targets.

“The meat industry takes its environmental responsibilities seriously, but what we have lacked to date is the means to demonstrate what we have all done and how we can improve. This first version of the Roadmap is just the start of a journey towards demonstrating and delivering continuous environmental improvement,” said Phil Hambling, food policy manager, BMPA.

The report outlines three main efficiency improvement opportunities within the beef and sheep industries. These are: increasing the longevity of breeding stock, so the costs of their non-productive rearing phase are spread over a greater weight of meat produced; increasing the fertility efficiency of breeding stock, so they produce more slaughter stock and a greater weight of meat in their productive lives; and increasing the feed efficiency of slaughter stock, so they produce more meat per unit of input.

Phase two of the Roadmap will examine the environmental impact of beef and sheep production and its supply chain in more detail. “It will be important in ensuring that future beef and sheep production strategies take full advantage of mutually beneficial improvements, such as more efficient artificial fertiliser usage and water quality enhancement,” added the report.

Peter Kendall, NFU president, said: “Livestock farmers understand the crucial role they have to play in producing more food with less impact and see themselves as part of the solution to global problems that include climate change. This Roadmap is an important starting point in realising this vision - understanding where we are, what we need to achieve and how we might do it.”