Ambitious ways pay in climate work: Beef and agribusiness briefs

Shan Goodwin
By Shan Goodwin
November 29 2021 - 2:00am
Ambitious ways pay in climate work

SETTING the goal of being carbon neutral by 2030 has been the most material thing done to facilitate progress in climate work in the red meat industry, Meat & Livestock Australia's managing director Jason Strong said.

That decision, announced four years ago by then MLA boss Richard Norton, was taken largely in isolation, Mr Strong said.



"It has driven four years of activity - the initiation of research and the confidence to try to do something in this area," he said.

"It's completely aligned with commercial organisations taking positive steps to line themselves up to do what is needed to get us there.

"You have to be able to pay for what you're doing. You have to be profitable and productive as well and there is no question we can run these two things in parallel."

Seaweed as a cattle feed additive was a good example, Mr Strong said.

"When it first emerged, depending on who you listened to, seaweed was either going to deliver world peace or it was just an interesting thing with nothing much to offer," he said.

"But today we have evidence that you can supplement livestock with this and reduce their methane emissions by more than 90 per cent. Because we set that aspirational goal, that work has been done.

"So with nine years to go, we're off to the races."

Blasting ahead on sustainability and climate work made sense, according to Mr Strong, 'while we have control of the issue.'

"If we aren't proactive and do the things that put us in the best position long-term, it will be done to us," he said.

"We should be as ambitious as we can be."

Packhorse appointment

Australian regenerative agriculture cattle property investment manager Packhorse, has named Dr Elaine Mitchell as its head of environmental, social and governance.

She will be responsible for ensuring nature and biodiversity is at the forefront of operations, while generating consistent and sustainable returns for investors.

Dr Mitchell is a research associate in the Managing for Resilient Landscapes theme at Queensland University of Technology's Centre for Agriculture and Bioeconomy. Her research focuses on soil carbon, with a particular interest in the mechanisms and drivers of the formation and persistence of soil organic carbon, and how it responds to agricultural management and global environmental change.

"Packhorse is accumulating rural land on a mass scale across Australia so the opportunity to implement regenerative practices based on science and deploy significant carbon sequestration projects is extremely exciting," said Dr Mitchell.

Beef farm profits jump

High cattle prices and improved seasonal conditions have translated into higher farm profits, Meat & Livestock Australia's chair Alan Beckett reported at the organisation's annual general meeting last week.



The farm performance survey, funded by MLA, showed in the 2021 financial year, Australian beef producers experienced a 41 per cent increase in cash incomes.

Meat & Livestock Australia's chair Alan Beckett

"In export markets the vaccination roll-out, stimulus packages and return to more normal food service behaviour have lifted beef demand," he said.

"However, the high cattle prices and relatively high Australian dollar remains challenging for our exporters."

Food Futures boost

Murdoch University has announced the appointment of Professor Rajeev K Varshney, an agricultural scientist specialising in genomics, genetics, molecular breeding and capacity building in developing countries, to its acclaimed Food Futures Institute.

Prof Varshney will take on the roles of director of the State Agricultural Biotechnology Centre and director of the Centre of Crop and Food Innovation.



He will also take on the position of international chair in agriculture and food security, designed to connect Murdoch University with global agricultural research systems.

"Professor Varshney is eminently qualified in the area of food security, which is so important when you consider that 70 per cent more food will be needed to feed the world's 9.5 billion people by 2050," acting deputy vice chancellor research and innovation Professor Peter Davies said.

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Shan Goodwin

Shan Goodwin

National Agriculture Writer - Beef

Shan Goodwin steers ACM’s national coverage of the beef industry. Shan has worked as a journalist for 30 years, the majority of that with agricultural publications. She spent many years as The Land’s North Coast reporter and has visited beef properties and stations throughout the country and overseas. She treats all breeds equally.

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