AUSTRALIA’S red meat industry has determined there are as many as 20 pathways it might take to reach its goal of being carbon neutral by 2030.
It is now at the point of implementing a committee featuring some of the world’s leading scientists to review work already done in many of those avenues.
Managing director of the sector’s research and development organisation Meat and Livestock Australia, Richard Norton, believes over the next decade the industry will well and truly deliver on the target.
In the past ten years, it has already reduced its emissions by 45 per cent, he told a senate estimates hearing in Canberra last week.
Trials with supplementary feeding of seaweed were showing emission reductions in sheep to the tune of 80 per cent, Mr Norton reported.
Trials of probiotics use in livestock - which Mr Norton termed ‘the equivalent of Inner Health for cattle’ - had delivered similar reductions.
Other fields of scientific work showing promise in the way of reducing the carbon footprint of livestock production include early savanna burning and balancing production systems.
Mr Norton said the message being sent to the consumer was the red meat industry does not walk away from the issue and is prepared to deliver.
Research suggested in a natural grazing system like Australia’s, where stock were not housed over winter in barns and there was not as much intensive lotfeeding as the United States, livestock production may already be sequestering carbon, he said.
At the same time the industry was working on how to reduce emissions, it was also looking to set straight the facts about how animal protein stacks up environmentally.
MLA has commissioned a report with a university to investigate the impacts on land usage, synthetic fertiliser, insecticide and pesticide usage and the increase in monocultures through cropping if 20 per cent of the Australian population shifted to a vegan diet.