It’s well known that certain farming practices contribute to the rising rate of greenhouse gases.
What isn’t as well known is that Canadian beef producers have been working hard to reduce their contributions.
Through the National Beef Sustainability Assessment, the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef completed a recent social and economic study. It was part of the industry’s preparations for discussions on its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). It’s especially significant considering the federal government’s release last month of its strategy on carbon pricing.
The study was meant to build a comprehensive understanding of the impact and contribution the industry makes on the environment, the country’s economy and to rural communities.
Bob Lowe, chairperson of the Canadian Cattleman’s Association (CCA) environment committee, noted Canada’s beef industry has one of the lowest GHG footprints per unit of production in the world —at 12 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent per kilogram of live weight. That works out to less than half the average of the rest of the world.
“Although the beef industry contributes to just 3.2 per cent of Canada’s total GHG footprint, we want to work together to find appropriate solutions,” Lowe said.
“This way we ensure one well-intended policy doesn’t negatively impact another environmental, social or economic goals we are working towards.”
According to the study, land used for beef production presently stores about 1.5 billion tonnes of carbon, while conserving 44 million acres of pasture that includes 32 million acres of native grasslands — which is an ecosystem at-risk with less than 18 per cent of that land left in North America.
The study also found that, over the past 10 years, a 200 head cow-calf herd returned just an average of $17,559 to the Canadian producer, while the industry as a whole has contributed more than $41 billion to the economy and generated 228,000 jobs.
With industry margins being rather small and the need to remain globally competitive, the CCA is promoting a solutions-based dialogue as talks continue on climate change, which includes recommendations on a strategy to further reduce its footprint.
Among the recommendations are increasing productivity to reduce the per kilogram footprint, enhance producer resiliency to climate change impacts, support national and international talks and actions, scientific monitoring and more mitigation of emissions.
For more details on the CCA’s efforts and facts on climate change in beef production, head to www.cattle.ca and search for reducing greenhouse gases. Study results can be found at http://crsb.ca/wp-content/uploads/resources/NBSA_ and_Strategy_summary_report_web1.pdf).