Sustainable agricultural practices are essential to feeding a growing and voracious global population.
There is a strong argument for an industry-based environmental stewardship system that recognises sustainable agriculture practices.
While environmental groups, producer bodies and regional groups in Australia have filled the gap, an umbrella environmental stewardship program would be beneficial.
The industry is in the process of developing a stewardship management system for producers, to allow more effective management and reporting on sustainable agricultural practices.
This system will address five crucial areas: greenhouse gas and energy management; land use and management; soil and water; biodiversity; and feral animals and weeds.
Australian red meat producers actively undertake measures at each stage of production to increase their efficiency, cut greenhouse gas emissions and manage other environmental impacts to help preserve our natural resources.
The domestic red meat industry invests more than $7.5 million each year in research and development (R&D) to find ways to make constant improvements to its environmental performance.
This includes collaborating with other livestock industries and governments in R&D to find practical ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while increasing productivity. Since 1990, emissions from red meat production have decreased by 6.5% per kilogram of product.
Through holistic management of their properties, Australian farmers nurture not only their livestock but the soil, trees, micro-organisms, native animals and vegetation that make up their production system. Not only is this important for sustainable farms but it is important for Australia’s quest to cut overall emissions.
A worldwide analysis of the effects of land management on soil carbon showed there is on average about 8% more soil carbon under well-managed pasture than under native forests.
While sustainable farming practices make good business sense, consumers are also increasingly seeking more information about the sustainability profile of their red meat.
The Australian red meat industry is actively engaged with the Sustainable Agricultural Initiative (SAI) Platform – a unique initiative set up in Europe five years ago by leading food companies with a conviction that a common food and agricultural industry platform can promote sustainable agriculture at a global level.
The SAI Platform is an independent association operating across the agriculture, food and fibre chain and aims to change practices to improve agriculture sustainability outcomes.
The Platform’s business approach is known as the ‘PPPs‘ where three dimensions are considered – people, profit and the planet.
Australian agriculture is in a strong position to meet the growing global demand for food. As an agricultural nation with a strong focus on exports, Australia’s farmers are committed to sustainable agricultural systems.