The single greatest threat to the global beef industry is the eight-year half-life of methane, which makes herd reductions a convenient target for governments of the world trying to reach 2030 climate commitments and the Global Methane Pledge.
Our industry is driven by two chemical reactions, photosynthesis that pulls carbon dioxide from the air. and enteric fermentation that releases methane into the atmosphere.
The methane breaks down to carbon dioxide and the connection between these two reactions form the biogenic carbon cycle.
Cattle use this process to graze low quality feed such as ligneous grasses and convert them in into energy and high quality protein, stimulating plant growth in the grasses they have grazed so that more carbon dioxide is pulled from the atmosphere into the plants and soil.
Methane reduction through cattle herd reductions is the low hanging fruit for emissions reduction.
Having recently undertaken a carbon audit on farm, methane was over 70 per cent of our carbon footprint.
The beef industry identified and committed to finding a solution to this challenge five years ago and is well advanced in identifying approaches to reduce methane as part of our target to be carbon neutral by 2030.
This isn't the easy way, it is the right way - solve global challenges by embracing natural cycles, maintaining productivity and improving food security.
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Industry must also focus on how we want methane to be accounted for in our production system.
An accounting system is an entirely man-made concept being applied to a biological system.
The work of Dr Frank Mitloehner identifies that methane produced from fossil fuels is a stock building in the atmosphere where as methane produced as part of a biogenic carbon cycle is a flow - emissions are breaking down as new emissions are being released into the atmosphere.
Emissions are determined by the increase or decrease in flow; a consistent herd is emitting no more across a cycle.
A herd increasing in productivity is reducing its methane emissions.
The role of methane in our own production system should be accounted for as a flow within the 12-year biogenic carbon cycle.
To my knowledge no industry on earth of the size and scope of the Australian red meat industry has a net zero 2030 commitment.
Industries that are forward thinking and solutions focused should be spared regulation to incentivise the initiative.
We have spent the last five years undertaking the research needed to identify the tools for achieving net zero - the next stage is about execution.
The Australian beef industry will deliver.
Any methane pledge for a 30pc reduction by 2030 should exclude agriculture from regulation.
Government policy should instead create incentives and encourage technology and investment so our world-leading beef industry can achieve the far greater commitment it has made.
- Mark Davie, CQ cattleman and food manufacturer
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